Wittgenstein defines his notion of "meaning" in section 43 of the Philosophical Investigations. He wrote:
Man kann für eine große Klass von Fällen der Benützung des Wortes "Bedeutung"--wenn auch nicht für alle Fälle seiner Benützung--dieses Wort so erklären: Die Bedeutung eines Wortes ist sein Gebrauch in der Sprache (PU §43).
A preliminary translation of this passage might run as follows:
One can for a large class of cases in which the word "meaning" is used--if also not for all cases of this use--explain the word thus: the meaning of a word is its use in the language (PI §43). (Anscombe's translation from Basil Blackwell's pressing of Philosophical Investigations
Wittgenstein's conception of meaning rejects the classic philosophical assumptions about sense and reference as being a 'thing' that is attached to words and sentences. Words and sentences do not have meanings, Wittgenstein is saying. Rather, he urgers, they embody relationships that are themselves embodied in the use of these words in actual conversations. This definition of "meaning" is very common-sense in that it maps meaning back to the very utterances that we think of in most cases when someone asks us for the meaning of a word. It is of interest to note that often a person, when asked to define a word, will not define it as one would find a 'definition' in the dictionary, but will give one or two common examples of that word's use. Further, children are often taught to not only define a word, but to use it in sentences in order to prove that they really grasp the way that the word is used in communication (and not merely that they can copy a 'definition' from a dictionary). Meaning is expressed only in language. Language embodies meaning. Meaning, on Wittgenstein's view, is not an entity disembodied from our language. Meaning is a practical aspect of language.