at·​om·​ism ˈa-tə-ˌmi-zəm How to pronounce atomism (audio)
: a doctrine that the physical or physical and mental universe is composed of simple indivisible minute particles
atomist noun

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Some denied the theory of atomism; some satirized it; some engaged in a good-faith debate about a bizarre-sounding idea. Gregory Barber, Wired, 10 Feb. 2022 According to Vaisesika atomism, the four elements (earth, water, air, and fire) each come in two variations: atomic—that is, invisible, indivisible, and indestructible; and composite—that is, visible and perceptible. Priyamvada Natarajan, The New York Review of Books, 15 June 2021 This recognition suggests the importance not of atomism but of community and ethical commitment for the development and sustaining of these liberties. Fred Bauer, National Review, 12 Oct. 2020 Moreover, as Alexis de Tocqueville saw, that daily participation in local governance can help ward off the tendencies toward atomism and technocracy to which modern democracy is susceptible. Fred Bauer, National Review, 28 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'atomism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1678, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of atomism was in 1678

Dictionary Entries Near atomism

Cite this Entry

“Atomism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Mar. 2023.

Medical Definition


at·​om·​ism ˈat-ə-ˌmiz-əm How to pronounce atomism (audio)
: a doctrine that the universe is composed of simple indivisible minute particles
: a psychological doctrine that perceptions, thoughts, and all mental processes are built up by the combination of simple elements

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