A referent is the concrete object or concept that is designated by a word or expression. A referent is an object, action, state, relationship, or attribute in the referential realm.
Historically, there was only one person called George Washington, the first president of the United States. He can be referred to in a text in many ways, such as
Even though there are many ways to talk about him, there is only one referent in the referential realm.
Pei, Mario A., and Frank Gaynor. 1954.A dictionary of linguistics. New York: Philosophical Library.
Mish, Frederick (editor). 1991.Webster's ninth new collegiate dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster. 1,564 pages. 0877795088; indexed 0877795096; deluxe 087779510X.
Hartmann, R.R.K., and F.C. Stork. 1972.Dictionary of language and linguistics. London: Applied Science.
Foley, William A., and Robert D. Van Valin, Jr. 1985. "Information packaging in the clause." In Shopen 1985b 282–364.
Crystal, David. 1985.A dictionary of linguistics and phonetics. 2nd edition. New York: Basil Blackwell.