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

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 This is the first time these categorical rhythms have been identified in a nonhuman mammal. Sam Jones, New York Times, 25 Oct. 2021 Such a categorical claim is misleading and reveals an omission in this book: Feldman’s lack of attention to Southern enslavers’ manipulation and defiance of the Constitution. Washington Post, 12 Nov. 2021 But such categorical statements are clearly not shared by most in the scientific community. NBC News, 6 Oct. 2021 The team's analysis revealed that indris follow a set of patterns known as categorical rhythms. Rasha Aridi, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 Oct. 2021 The researchers wanted to see if the black-and-white lemurs had categorical rhythm — the ability to create different types of rhythm patterns. Megan Marples, CNN, 25 Oct. 2021 The products are displayed in a way that’s easy to understand, aligned essentially with the categorical steps of skincare routines: Cleansers, toners, moisturizers, then serums. Isiah Magsino, Robb Report, 19 Oct. 2021 Another genetic approach that is a bit gray around the categorical edges is known as oligonucleotide therapy. Esther Landhuis, Scientific American, 18 Oct. 2021 But such categorical statements are clearly not shared by most in the scientific community. Arthur Allen, Anchorage Daily News, 10 Oct. 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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categorical imperative

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Last Updated

6 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Categorical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of categorical

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

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Britannica English: Translation of categorical for Arabic Speakers


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