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 categorical (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 categorical (audio) , -​ˈgär-​ \ adverb

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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 company’s most valuable piece of software can analyze the content of a video, determine what the video is about, and then attach categorical tags, or metadata, to the piece of content. Brittany Meiling, San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 May 2021 An enhanced risk is a three out of five on the categorical scale measuring the risk for thunderstorms that could produce damaging wind gusts, large hail, or tornadoes. Dennis Mersereau, Forbes, 27 May 2021 This somewhat testy back-and-forth discussion of Scott’s underlying prior offense, despite its irrelevance to the analysis, illustrates a seeming discomfort with the nature of the categorical analysis itself. The Insider, Forbes, 15 Apr. 2021 Opting not to take decisive action could also invite categorical bans by regulators. Brennan Spellacy, Fortune, 28 Mar. 2021 Courts use Holmes’s categorical and abstract approach, Greene says, instead of grappling with the particular human conflicts between the specific parties to a case. Washington Post, 19 Mar. 2021 For me, that image is the absolute categorical picture of what solitude is. Rachel Handler, Vulture, 10 Mar. 2021 The shift in categorical hue carries significant ramifications for local economies that have long been crushed by COVID-19 closures and interruptions. Los Angeles Times, 10 Mar. 2021 But that does not justify the State’s categorical bar. Nick Tomaino, National Review, 7 Mar. 2021

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

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The first known use of categorical was in 1588

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Last Updated

9 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Categorical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for categorical



English Language Learners Definition of categorical

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


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