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tabula rasa

play
noun ta·bu·la ra·sa \ˌta-byə-lə-ˈrä-zə, -sə\

Definition of tabula rasa

plural tabulae rasae play \-ˌlī-ˈrä-ˌzī, -ˌsī\

  1. 1 :  the mind in its hypothetical primary blank or empty state before receiving outside impressions

  2. 2 :  something existing in its original pristine state



Did You Know?

Philosophers have been arguing that babies are born with minds that are essentially blank slates since the days of Aristotle. (Later, some psychologists took up the case as well.) English speakers have called that initial state of mental blankness tabula rasa (a term taken from a Latin phrase that translates as "smooth or erased tablet") since the 16th century, but it wasn't until British philosopher John Locke championed the concept in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding in 1690 that the term gained widespread popularity in our language. In later years, a figurative sense of the term emerged, referring to something that exists in its original state and that has yet to be altered by outside forces.

Origin of tabula rasa

Latin, smoothed or erased tablet


First Known Use: 1535


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