de·​ter·​min·​ism | \ di-ˈtər-mə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce determinism (audio) , dē- \

Definition of determinism

1 philosophy
a : a theory or doctrine that acts of the will (see will entry 2 sense 4a), occurrences in nature, or social or psychological phenomena are causally determined by preceding events or natural laws
b : a belief in predestination
2 : the quality or state of being determined

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Other Words from determinism

determinist \ di-​ˈtər-​mə-​nəst How to pronounce determinist (audio) , dē-​ \ noun or adjective
deterministic \ di-​ˌtər-​mə-​ˈni-​stik How to pronounce deterministic (audio) , dē-​ \ adjective
deterministically \ di-​ˌtər-​mə-​ˈni-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce deterministically (audio) , dē-​ \ adverb

Examples of determinism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Only five per cent is related to genetic determinism. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "Deepak Chopra Has Never Been Sick," 17 Oct. 2019 This doctrine, known as determinism, was advocated passionately by the philosopher Baruch Spinoza, whom Einstein considered a great hero. Quanta Magazine, "Einstein’s Parable of Quantum Insanity," 10 Sep. 2015 During a discussion of existentialism and determinism that Rob was ingeniously weaving into the story through one of the hitmen, Raymond, who also taught a course in philosophy, brought new insights into the philosophical analysis. Kareem Abdul-jabbar, The Hollywood Reporter, "Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: What I Learned Writing for 'Veronica Mars'," 15 Aug. 2019 So, is algorithmic determinism the basis of futurism? Jevon Phillips, Los Angeles Times, "Meet the ‘Westworld’ panel moderator who showed Comic-Con how it’s done," 24 July 2019 Spider-Man in black was moodier and spookier; comics costumes tend toward that kind of visual determinism in general. Adam Rogers, WIRED, "Spider-Man Is Back ... But Why All Dressed in Black?," 3 July 2019 In a case of nominative determinism at its best, Parrott—a tall, bespectacled righty from southern California—was a first-round draft pick of the Orioles. Jon Tayler,, "The Rockies-Padres Series at Coors Field Was Bonkers in the Best Way Possible," 18 June 2019 Yet for all the bleak determinism and brutality in Dennis-Benn’s fictional worlds, what stands out in Patsy is yearning—for opportunity, for pleasure, for connection, almost exclusively among women. Adrienne Green, The Atlantic, "The Costs of Going After Love," 7 June 2019 Kelvin Droegemeier great example of nominative determinism — where your name lines up with your job — as Kelvin is the name of a unit on the thermodynamic temperature scale (one Kelvin is equal to one degree on the Celsius scale). Umair Irfan, Vox, "Trump finally picked a science adviser. He’s a meteorologist. Named Kelvin.," 1 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'determinism.' 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 determinism

1838, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for determinism

see determine

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The first known use of determinism was in 1838

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Cite this Entry

“Determinism.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

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How to pronounce determinism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of determinism

philosophy : the belief that all events are caused by things that happened before them and that people have no real ability to make choices or control what happens


de·​ter·​min·​ism | \ di-ˈtər-mə-ˌniz-əm How to pronounce determinism (audio) \

Medical Definition of determinism

1 : a theory or doctrine that acts of the will, occurrences in nature, or social or psychological phenomena are causally determined by preceding events or natural laws explained behavior by the combination of an environmental and a genetic determinism
2 : the quality or state of being determined

Other Words from determinism

deterministic \ -​ˌtər-​mə-​ˈnis-​tik How to pronounce deterministic (audio) \ also determinist \ -​ˈtərm-​(ə-​)nəst How to pronounce determinist (audio) \ adjective
deterministically \ -​ˌtər-​mə-​ˈnis-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce deterministically (audio) \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on determinism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with determinism

Britannica English: Translation of determinism for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about determinism

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to insert between existing elements

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