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

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 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, "The Man On The Street And The Layperson With Common Sense," 15 Apr. 2021 Opting not to take decisive action could also invite categorical bans by regulators. Brennan Spellacy, Fortune, "How crypto can fix one of its biggest problems," 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, "Why are our debates about rights so toxic?," 19 Mar. 2021 For me, that image is the absolute categorical picture of what solitude is. Rachel Handler, Vulture, "Almodóvar on The Human Voice, a Film Inspired by ‘Desperation’," 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, "As COVID vaccinations rise, L.A. strides into a world where ‘new normal’ is anything but," 10 Mar. 2021 But that does not justify the State’s categorical bar. Nick Tomaino, National Review, "Even on Death Row, Religious Liberty Must Be Protected," 7 Mar. 2021 But a look back reminds us that categorical content bans often come at the expense of marginalized groups. Michael Waters, Wired, "Warnings From the Queer History of Modern Internet Regulation," 28 Feb. 2021 An even more categorical prognosis came from Ms. Murkowski. New York Times, "Republican Acquittal of Trump Is a Pivotal Moment for the Party," 13 Feb. 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

Time Traveler

The first known use of categorical was in 1588

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Statistics for categorical

Last Updated

22 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Categorical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of categorical

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

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