cat·​e·​gor·​i·​cal | \ ˌka-tə-ˈgȯr-i-kəl How to pronounce categorical (audio) , -ˈgär- \
variants: or less commonly categoric \ ˌka-​tə-​ˈgȯr-​ik How to pronounce categoric (audio) , -​ˈgär-​ \

Definition of categorical

1 : absolute, unqualified a categorical denial
2a : of, relating to, or constituting a category
b : involving, according with, or considered with respect to specific categories a categorical system for classifying books

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Other Words from categorical

categorically \ ˌka-​tə-​ˈgȯr-​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce categorically (audio) , -​ˈgär-​ \ adverb

Did You Know?

The ancestor of categorical and category has been important in logic and philosophy since the days of Aristotle. Both English words derive from Greek katēgoria, which Aristotle used to name the 10 fundamental classes (also called "predications" or "assertions") of terms, things, or ideas into which he felt human knowledge could be organized. Ironically, although those categories and things categorical are supposed to be absolute and fundamental, philosophers have long argued about the number and type of categories that exist and their role in understanding the world. High-level philosophical disputes aside, the word categorical continues to refer to an absolute assertion, one that involves no conditions or hypotheses (for example, the statement "all humans are mortal").

Examples of categorical in a Sentence

He issued a categorical denial about his involvement in the deal. a categorical denial of the rumors that the celebrities were planning to get married
Recent Examples on the Web The federal judiciary must enforce existing antitrust prohibitions, including the categorical ban on tying by firms with power, and open the app market for iPhone owners and app developers. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, "An Epic showdown: 'Fortnite' publisher's suits vs. Apple, Google and what it means for you," 16 Aug. 2020 California’s near-categorical ban of LCMs strikes at the core of the Second Amendment — the right to armed self-defense. NBC News, "Federal court rules against California's ban on high-capacity magazines," 14 Aug. 2020 It’s not generally my inclination to make categorical statements like Chris’. The New York Times News Service Syndicate, The Denver Post, "Giving Rosso di Montalcino a second look," 11 Mar. 2020 Nearly a decade ago, the Obama administration put in place a categorical exclusion on nuclear power plant projects at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the predecessor to the DFC, which was formed in December. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Trump administration moves to reverse Obama-era ban on financing nuclear energy overseas," 9 June 2020 But in the past five years, the San Francisco Planning Department granted or considered categorical exemptions for at least a dozen projects on Cortese list sites, a Chronicle analysis found. Cynthia Dizikes,, "Exclusive: How SF sidestepped state law on developing toxic sites," 7 June 2020 But as reckless and frustrating as these demonstrations may be, such categorical dismissals are wrongheaded. Bonnie Kristian, TheWeek, "What lockdown protests are really about," 22 Apr. 2020 This perhaps would point to the idea that people are sticking to their standbys—at least from a categorical perspective—at this time. Rachel King, Fortune, "How the on-demand liquor delivery business changed overnight during the coronavirus pandemic," 11 Apr. 2020 On Tuesday in Milwaukee, the state’s most populous city and the Democratic power base of the state, voting logistics were a categorical nightmare. New York Times, "They Turned Out to Vote in Wisconsin During a Health Crisis. Here’s Why.," 7 Apr. 2020

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

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First Known Use of categorical

1588, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for categorical

Late Latin categoricus, from Greek katēgorikos, from katēgoria — see category

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Time Traveler for categorical

Time Traveler

The first known use of categorical was in 1588

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Last Updated

19 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Categorical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2020.

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How to pronounce categorical (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of categorical

: said in a very strong, clear, and definite way

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