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

Other Words from determinism

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

Examples of determinism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Borrowing terminology from Darwinist science, determinism spread thanks to European writers read in Brazil and the United States. Ela Bittencourt, Harper’s Magazine , 7 Dec. 2021 The Standard Version is a species of technological determinism, in which forms of society correspond to modes of production. George Scialabba, The New Republic, 1 Nov. 2021 Unfortunately, this necessary corrective for uncritical chauvinism combined with Progressive economic determinism to discourage scholarly interpretation of the American founding as either unique or — that dread word! — good. Sam Negus, National Review, 10 Oct. 2021 The war on terror had just been declared, and the unfolding American military action was cloaked in purposeful determinism in the name of freedom and against tyranny. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, 13 Aug. 2021 But determinism and fate vs. free will are not the main focuses of the play. Jack Butler, National Review, 3 July 2021 The question has myriad answers, ranging from theories of geographic determinism to deeply ideological arguments about the West’s unique cultural genius. Washington Post, 21 July 2021 Granted, things don’t get overly esoteric—Doctor Strange is better at unpacking philosophy—but the Time Variance Authority’s commitment to hard determinism would make Pierre-Simon Laplace proud. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, 14 July 2021 True disciples of Karl Marx focus on grand theories of economic determinism, not the difficult realities of actual life. Arthur I. Cyr,, 8 July 2021

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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Time Traveler for determinism

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The first known use of determinism was in 1838

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Last Updated

17 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Determinism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for determinism



English Language Learners Definition of determinism

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

More from Merriam-Webster on determinism

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


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