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An entity is anything that claims independent existence (as opposed to merely being part of a whole), whether as a subject or as an object, actually or potentially, concretely or abstractly.

The term is broad in scope and may refer to animals; natural features like mountains; inanimate objects like tables; abstractions like numbers or sets; human contrivances like laws, corporations and academic disciplines; or supernatural beings like Gods and spirits.

The adjectival form is entitative and refers to something considered in its own right.


The word entity is derived from the Latin entitas, which in turn derives from the Latin ens meaning "being" or "existing" (compare English essence). Entity may hence literally be taken to mean "thing which exists".

In philosophy[edit]

Ontology is the study of being, existence and the recognition of entities. The words ontic and entity are derived respectively from the ancient Greek and Latin present participles that mean "being".

In law[edit]

In law, a legal entity is an entity that is capable of bearing legal rights and obligations, such as a natural person or an artificial person (e.g. business entity or a corporate entity).

In politics[edit]

In politics, entity is used as term for territorial divisions of some countries (e.g. Bosnia and Herzegovina).

In medicine[edit]

In medicine, a disease entity is an illness due to a particular definite cause or to a specific pathological process. While a disease entity is not defined by a syndrome, it may or may not be manifest in one or more particular syndromes.

See also[edit]