Words at Play : Big Words on Campus

#6: Heuristic

Definition:

: involving or serving as an aid to learning, discovery, or problem-solving by experimental and especially trial-and-error methods

Example:

"There are two basic mechanisms involved in picking up new words. First there is the heuristic approach, in which the child is able to infer the meaning of a word when it is spoken by relying on external cues, such as following the gaze of the speaker – or having the object described by the word pointed out to them..." — Jennifer Ouellette, ScientificAmerican.com, August 6, 2013

About the Word:

Heuristic methods help solve problems (as when the evaluation of feedback improves performance in a heuristic computer program).

This investigative approach to problem solving is found in the ancestry of heuristic: the Greek heuriskein "to discover" shares a common ancestor with the Old Irish fuar, meaning "I have found."

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