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 practice, called categorical eligibility, is intended partly to reduce duplicative paperwork. Washington Post, "Trump proposal seeks to crack down on food stamp ‘loophole’," 28 July 2019 The practice, called categorical eligibility, is intended partly to reduce duplicative paperwork. David A. Lieb,, "Trump proposal seeks to crack down on food stamp ‘loophole’ previously encouraged under Obama administration," 27 July 2019 Proving those types of categorical distinctions is among the hardest and most important open problems in the field. Quanta Magazine, "A Short Guide to Hard Problems," 16 July 2018 The court is categorical in rejecting this argument. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Marquette’s Black Eye," 6 July 2018 That means creating mountains of personal stuff in categorical heaps and owning up to mankind’s extraordinary ability to accumulate. Lonnie Firestone, Glamour, "It Took a Fire in My Building to Understand Marie Kondo's Method," 15 Jan. 2019 To compile our list of the best humidifiers, The Good Housekeeping Institute identified five great picks based upon our categorical knowledge in this category. Rachel Rothman, Good Housekeeping, "The Best Humidifiers to Buy This Winter," 20 Dec. 2018 At this point, the next logical step is for the committee to follow up on this allegation and the categorical denial from the judge. Fox News, "Kevin Hassett talks corporate tax cut, rising wages," 24 Sep. 2018 Apple and Amazon, for their part, responded with unusually specific and categorical denials. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Bloomberg stands by Chinese chip story as Apple, Amazon ratchet up denials," 5 Oct. 2018

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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Last Updated

2 Aug 2019

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The first known use of categorical was in 1588

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English Language Learners Definition of categorical

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

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What made you want to look up categorical? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a period when something is suspended

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