de·​ter·​min·​ism | \di-ˈtər-mə-ˌni-zəm, 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 \ -​nəst \ noun or adjective
deterministic \ -​ˌtər-​mə-​ˈnis-​tik \ adjective
deterministically \ -​ti-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Examples of determinism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Thematically, Minority Report is interested in questions of free will and determinism, but it’s perhaps remembered best for its eerily prescient takes on technology and advertising. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "10 subversive, dark American futures to stream on July 4th," 4 July 2018 Zhang, a charismatic entrepreneur, conveyed a curious admixture of economic determinism and capitalism that paired well with the communist and Chinese flags that flanked his desk. Michael D. Breidenbach, The Atlantic, "Raising the American Flag Made in China," 4 July 2018 The brothers were presented to the public, and, indeed, at times, presented themselves, as a striking argument for biological determinism, a victory for those who believe in the primacy of nature over the push back of nurture. Justin Chang,, "'Three Identical Strangers' is a riveting account of identical triplets separated at birth," 28 June 2018 More recently, a group of psychologists published a paper claiming that nominative determinism actually works. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, "Must Dennis be a dentist?," 10 May 2018 Technological determinism is perhaps the great intellectual temptation of our decade—try not to fall for it. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Did Math Kill God?," 27 Apr. 2018 The work argues for collaborative social practices, while needling technological determinism. Julia Couzens, sacbee, "A witty and deep showcase of Jewish artists' contributions to California art history | The Sacramento Bee," 6 Apr. 2018 Those on the Marxist left and the free-market right may imagine themselves to be ideological enemies, and yet both camps place their faith in an economic determinism that diminishes human complexity. Donovan Hohn, New York Times, "Democracy’s Fierce Defender," 9 Mar. 2018 As a philosophical question, free will and its antithesis, determinism, enlist psychology, biology, environment, and ethics. Marilynne Robinson, New Republic, "The Luther Legend," 12 Dec. 2017

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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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 \

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 \ also determinist \ -​ˈtərm-​(ə-​)nəst \ adjective
deterministically \ -​ˌtər-​mə-​ˈnis-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

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

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to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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