The Meaning of Rendition: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of rendition? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word rendition, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word rendition mean?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language and Dictionary, the noun rendition (pronunciation: rɛnˈdɪʃən) has a plethora of different possible meanings. The first, and the most common, refers to some performance, interpretation, or depiction of something. This could refer to a dramatic role, a performance of a musical composition, performance of an artwork, performance of a musical score or musical work, a dramatic piece, or any other performance. This act of rendering a pre-existing word can lead to the alteration of lyrics or a different interpretation or spin on a work. Often, the worst renditions are those that are imitations of a previous performance. Someone might be moved by a rousing rendition of the national anthem. A live rendition of an artistic performance can be great entertainment. 

Next, the word rendition can refer to a translation of a text or a depiction of something. In a lifelike painting of a young boy, one might evaluate it as an accurate rendition of the child if they have seen him in real life. If literary translated text, like a verse,  is accurate between forms of a language, this might be considered an accurate rendition of a distinctive interpretation. This could also come into play with the interpreting of parables. 

Finally, in United States law, a rendition can refer to a surrender. Specifically, this refers to one state surrendering a fugitive to another state. This is also known as interstate extradition or extraordinary rendition. This act of surrender might involve a terrorist suspect, the claim of a foreign government by victorious force, or the surrender of a person due to legal restrictions in the given jurisdiction like Canadian law or the formal deliverance of a verdict by a prosecution. The transfer of a prisoner might me put into play by politicians if they are terrorists or if they have committed a military crime. There might be a loophole requiring the rendition of a slave in other countries. This doesn’t mean they should not be treated well; always advocate for the humane treatment of prisoners.

There are many different languages that also use words that mean rendition. You may notice that many of these words look and sound similar to one another. These are college cognates, which are words and phrases that look and sound alike while retaining a similar meaning across languages. These are often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin like Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word rendition is provided by Word Sense, but you could also find individual translations in a Spanish dictionary or German dictionary.

  •  French: interprétation‎ (fem.)
  •  Spanish: interpretación‎ (fem.)
  •  Uzbek: tushuntirib berish‎
  •  Greek: ερμηνεία‎ (fem.)
  •  Mongolian: тайлах‎
  •  Swedish: tolkning‎ (common)
  •  Hungarian: értelmezés‎
  •  Swahili: tafsiri‎
  •  German: Interpretation‎ (fem.), Deutung‎ (fem.)
  •  Mandarin: 解釋‎, 解释‎ (jiěshì)
  •  Javanese: interpretasi‎
  •  Maori: whakamāramatanga‎
  •  Estonian: tõlgendus‎
  •  Khmer: បកស្រាយ‎ (bakasray)
  •  Russian: интерпрета́ция‎, тракто́вка‎ (fem.), толкова́ние‎ (neut.), объясне́ние‎ (neut.)
  •  Portuguese: interpretação‎ (fem.)
  •  Finnish: tulkinta‎
  •  Romanian: interpretare‎ (fem.), semnificație‎ (fem.)
  •  Scottish Gaelic: ciallachadh‎ (masc.)
  •  Cebuano: hubad‎
  •  Japanese: 解釈‎ (かいしゃく, kaishaku)

What is the origin of the word rendition?

According to Etymonline, the word rendition was used in an obsolete sense beginning in the year 1600. This referred to a surrender of a place or possession. This comes from the obsolete French rendition meaning a rendering. This was a noun that came from the Middle French and Old French rendre meaning to deliver or to yield, from the L​​​ate Latin redditiō. Using the word rendition to refer to some translation began in the 1650s, and it was used to refer to a portrayal by 1858 in American English.  

How can the word rendition be used in a sentence?

The word rendition can be used in a variety of different circumstances to refer to an interpretation of a song or other artistic endeavor, as well as to a translation or some surrender of a prisoner. In this example, Erica has just performed the national anthem for a baseball game. She goes to sit with her family.

Mom: Great job, Erica!

Erica: Thanks!

Dad: That was the best rendition of the national anthem I’ve ever heard. And I’m not just saying that!

Here, Erica’s mom and dad compliment her rendition of the national anthem. In this next example, Erica is in art class. They are working on still life drawings. Erica’s teacher evaluates her work.

Teacher: I think it is a very accurate rendition of the fruit bowl, butI’m missing an energy here. I’m missing the emotion I feel should be infused into the piece.

Erica: The emotion about a bowl of fruit?

What are synonyms for the word rendition?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word rendition. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are a very good tool for expanding your vocabulary and can help you avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word rendition is provided by Thesaurus

  •  exhibition
  •  delegation
  •  portrayal
  •  version
  •  depiction
  •  likeness
  •  explanation
  •  translation
  •  adumbration
  •  duplicate
  •  impersonation
  •  reading
  •  edict
  •  image
  •  delivery
  •  construction
  •  copy
  •  interpretation
  •  reproduction
  •  personification
  •  delineation
  •  enactment
  •  transcription
  •  performance
  •  illustration
  •  design
  •  presentation
  •  imitation
  •  rendering
  •  execution
  •  narration
  •  arrangement
  •  impression

Overall, the word rendition most often refers to the interpretation of some work in a performance. This is often used to refer to Broadway shows or musical performances. The word rendition also has a couple of other less common meanings. 

Sources:

  1. Rendition | Word Sense
  2. Origin and meaning of rendition | Online Etymology Dictionary
  3. RENDITION Synonyms: 17 Synonyms & Antonyms for RENDITION | Thesaurus 
  4. Definition of Rendition | Merriam-Webster 
  5. Definition of Rendition | Dictionary.com