element is used to identify the defining instance of a term—that is, the
point in the document at which a given term (most probably an
industry-specific word, or jargon of some kind) is first explained. Some,
but not all, browsers will render the content inside the
dfn element in italics, which is a long-standing
typographic convention for presenting the defining instance of a word,
particularly in scientific papers. You could use CSS to format the
definition content in browsers that don’t style the definition in
The example HTML above would render as shown in Figure 1.
dfn is short for defining
instance, not for definition—you should not place the
actual definition of the term between the opening
The term “progressive enhancement” is defined in the code below:
<p>The concept of <dfn>progressive enhancement</dfn> has been about for a few years. You could say that it describes an approach to web development from the point of view that 'the glass is half full' rather than 'the glass is half empty.' Progressive enhancement came to the public's attention when ⋮</p>
Use This For …
This element is used to hold the text content of the term that is subsequently defined in the text.
dfn has varied browser support. Most browsers render
its content in italic type, but Safari and Chrome leave the text
non-italic (but you can easily style with a CSS
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