be·​hav·​ior·​ist bi-ˈhā-vyə-rist How to pronounce behaviorist (audio)
: a person who advocates or practices behaviorism
: a person who specializes in the study of behavior
an animal behaviorist
behaviorist adjective

Examples of behaviorist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web How can an animal behaviorist help a dog with separation anxiety? Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 12 Oct. 2022 Cat behaviorist Hannah McCoy highlighted the manifold dangers that leashed cats face, particularly in the hubbub of L.A. Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times, 2 Nov. 2023 Like many of her peers, Kennedy rejects what is often called the behaviorist approach to parenting, in which caregivers attempt to condition children’s behavior by wielding rewards and punishments—sticker charts, time-outs, and the like. Jessica Winter, The New Yorker, 22 Oct. 2023 Vets and nurses perform life changing and lifesaving surgeries, alongside skilled animal behaviorists and rehoming experts. Patrick Frater, Variety, 19 Oct. 2023 But not many experiments have demonstrated associative learning in simple animals such as jellyfish, says Ken Cheng, an animal behaviorist at Macquarie University in Australia who was not involved in the new research but wrote a commentary on it for the same issue of Current Biology. Meghan Bartels, Scientific American, 22 Sep. 2023 In the nineteen-fifties, the behaviorist B. F. Skinner argued that children learn language through positive reinforcement; therefore, other animals should be able to do the same. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 4 Sep. 2023 Can Cats Get Dementia? Gary Landsberg, a veterinary behaviorist based in Ontario, has seen his fair share of it over the past few decades. Marisa Sloan, Discover Magazine, 7 Mar. 2023 Consult your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist. Leada Gore |, al, 4 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'behaviorist.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1913, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of behaviorist was in 1913

Dictionary Entries Near behaviorist

Cite this Entry

“Behaviorist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Medical Definition


1 of 2 noun
variants or chiefly British behaviourist
: a person who advocates or practices behaviorism
: a person who specializes in the study of behavior
Animal behaviorists are often consulted regarding such problems as aggression, self-mutilation, food aversion and inappropriate urination or defecation.Tom Ewing, Dog Watch


2 of 2 adjective
: of or relating to behaviorism
behaviorist psychology

More from Merriam-Webster on behaviorist

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!