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The word register has many meanings. The basic idea of the verb is 'to set down in a [regular] record'. The noun, 'a register', usually refers to such a regular, or apparently complete, record. In English schools, for example, the daily recording of pupils' attendance is called 'taking the register', the register in question being the book kept and marked 'present' or 'absent' by the class teacher. (More officially, it is called 'the register of attendance'.) Several other meanings that may be of interest to students in different subjects are:

  • a linguistic term in the study of language
  • in Music, the register of a voice is a label of its quality, and in particular its pitch. The two registers of the normal male voice are the bass (lower register) and tenor (higher register). It has other technical meanings to do with certain instruments, notably the organ
  • in historical fields, any one of a number of official lists, for example the Register of Shipping, which contains the official record of every vessel registered under the British flag (i.e. belonging to the British Merchant Navy)
  • in historical and many sociological fields, students may search the Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths. These are the official lists of the birth, marriage and death certificates issued by the Registrars which are important documents in everyone's life
  • in Law, various official compilations of laws, cases and the like
  • in the decorative arts, a register is any one of a series of bands (usually horizontal) which may divide the decorative scheme of an article such as a vase

Following on from the idea of recording, but moving away from books, a register can be

  • an electronic device such as a LED which indicates (or registers) when a machine is switched on, or a process is operating, etc
  • a part of the storage or control system of a computer or similar device
  • a 'cash register' records sales and issues receipts for the money which is stored within it (colloquially 'a till')
  • in printing and photography, etc, the register is [the measure of] the degree to which different colours or prints 'match' each other - where there is poor 'register', the colours are fuzzy, or appear blurred or even completely at odds with each other

In fiction, or on stage, one may register - that is, 'show'- an emotion. Alternatively, an emotion - such as surprise - may register on one's face, that is show - for example by raised eyebrows.