What is the expression?

What Does Expression Mean

We explain what expression is and what are oral, written, body and algebraic expressions. Also, what is freedom of expression.

The expression ranges from art to a small gesture.

What is the expression?

An expression is any communicative act of the human being , which through some medium or language (verbal or non-verbal) are made manifest. This word acquires its most concrete meaning in each of the different spheres of life and knowledge, as we will see later, but it always retains the same original meaning: that of information that is revealed , made legible or recognizable , that is to say, it is expressed.


The term "expression" comes from the Latin expressio , from which the verb "squeeze" also comes. It is formed by the prefix ex - (“outside”) and premere (“press”), in the sense that an expression is what comes out of something when it is squeezed, and figuratively, it is what also “comes out” of our bodies.

Thus, what is expressed is what is communicated to others, while what remains hidden is, precisely, unexpressed, buried within ourselves. Expressing oneself, therefore, is equivalent to drawing from within oneself what one wants to say.

What we call expression is, at the same time, the act and the result of said process of manifestation of information . For this reason, it is common to speak of expressions to refer to words , phrases and idioms of the verbal language with which we can communicate (as in "foreign expressions"), or to the different manifestations of other types of information ("genetic expression" in biology , or "analytical expression" in mathematics ).

Similarly, when we talk about taking something to its lowest expression or its highest expression, we mean taking it to its lowest manifestation (weak, discreet, small, etc.) or highest possible (strong, scandalous, large, etc. ), respectively.

It can help you: Communication process

Oral and written expression

Voice, diction and other elements also take part in oral expression.

Normally, human beings have two main ways of expressing ourselves consciously: oral (spoken) and written . The two are very different, despite being related and depending on verbal language.

  • Oral expression implies the set of factors that affect human communication through a language shared between sender and receiver. It involves elements such as voice, diction, fluency of the speech and paralinguistic elements such as gestural, proxemics, etc. Unless recording devices are involved, oral expression is face-to-face and ephemeral, that is, it occurs in the place and time in which the emitter and receiver are, and then disappears, and it is the oldest and most natural mechanism of the human being , that uses the different organs that make up its speech apparatus.
  • The written expression, on the other hand, responds to the invention of one of the most important and revolutionary technologies invented by humanity around the year 4,000 BC. C., that is: writing . With it, an attempt is made to solve the problems of presence and disappearance of oral communication, since writing remains in time and can communicate to two or more people who know how to read , even if they are separated by kilometers of land or by the passage of centuries. Written expression, thus, requires learning and practice, since it is something acquired and artificial. It involves so much reading like writing, that is, the ability to generate and interpret visual symbols embodied in a physical medium.

Body expression

By corporal expression is the ability to transmit information in a non-linguistic way, through the postures and movements of the body . This type of expression usually accompanies speech and often even transmits information contrary to happiness, since the way in which the body acts can unconsciously express content that you want to hide.

Mastery of body language is common in public speakers, politicians, and other professions where full control over the message conveyed is required. It is a continuous source of information that obeys certain cultural and social codes .

For example, arms solidly crossed over the chest are often interpreted as a message of distrust, defensiveness or even superiority (the latter reason, which is why we will see this gesture repeated in superheroes and other fictional characters whose strength we want to highlight).

In the case of body expression that only concerns the positions and movements of the face, it is commonly known as a facial expression.

Algebraic expression

Algebraic expressions manifest logical or formal relationships.

In the case of mathematics, and more specifically algebra , an algebraic expression is called a combination of letters and numbers, interrelated by mathematical signs , which allows establishing or posing different mathematical relationships, especially when there are unknown variables or values.

These expressions allow to manifest certain logical or formal relationships. Algebraic expressions are handled as if they were composed of ordinary numbers, and they can be monomials, binomials, or polynomials, depending on whether they have one, two, or multiple terms.

Freedom of expression

The ability to express thought is something highly valued in different cultures , since through language it is possible to influence others and share our ways of seeing the world. For this reason, many authoritarian regimes persecute or limit the possibilities of free expression of the individuals who govern, applying methods of censorship, intimidation or directly ending the communication media of society.

Thus, freedom of expression is the right to freely express one's own thoughts, to express opinions, show discontent or say what you want to say, without any type of institution preventing it and without suffering reprisals based on an opinion. It is one of the fundamental rights of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , and it should be guaranteed for all citizens of any country.

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