The Stanford Encyclopedia explains its use when discussing properties:
"Properties can be Instantiated
Properties are most naturally contrasted with particulars, i.e., with individual things. The fundamental difference between properties and individuals is that properties can be instantiated
, whereas individuals cannot. Furthermore, at least many properties are general
; they can be instantiated by more than one thing.
The things that exemplify a property are called instances
of it (the instances of a relation are the things, taken in the relevant order, that stand in that relation). It is a matter of controversy whether properties can exist without actually being exemplified and whether some properties can be exemplified by other properties (in the way, perhaps, that redness
exemplifies the property of being a color
). Some philosophers even hold that there are unexemplifiable properties, e.g., being red and not red
, but even they typically believe that such properties are intimately related to other properties (here being red
and not being red
) that can be exemplified."
Properties (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)