em·​pir·​i·​cism | \im-ˈpir-ə-ˌsi-zəm, em-\

Definition of empiricism 

1a : a former school of medical practice founded on experience without the aid of science or theory

b : quackery, charlatanry

2a : the practice of relying on observation and experiment especially in the natural sciences

b : a tenet arrived at empirically

3 : a theory that all knowledge originates in experience

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Other Words from empiricism

empiricist \im-​ˈpir-​ə-​sist, em-​ \ noun

Examples of empiricism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Rejecting evidence and empiricism is a step toward despotism. Jonathan Foley, Scientific American, "The Administration’s War on Facts Is a War on Democracy Itself," 1 May 2017 That means, in its modern manifestation, that the tribe comes before the country as a whole, before any neutral institutions that get in its way, before reason and empiricism, and before the rule of law. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "When Two Tribes Go to War," 2 Feb. 2018 And both were involved with the Royal Society in London, in the flourishing of empiricism and natural philosophy that took place across the country and in the trying of exotic and newly available food and drink—tea, coffee, chocolate, pineapples. The Economist, "Pepys and Evelyn, chroniclers of the English Renaissance," 31 Aug. 2017 Isaac then all but mocks my belief in a rediscovery of moderation and empiricism to help us. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "It’s Win-Win When Trump and the Democrats Work Together," 22 Sep. 2017 The rise of supply-side economics on the right is perhaps the first major example of the modern Republican Party’s abandonment of policy expertise and empiricism. Jeet Heer, New Republic, "Art Laffer and the Intellectual Rot of the Republican Party," 18 Oct. 2017 That empiricism has persuaded most Anglo-American conservative thinkers of the importance of traditional Protestant institutions such as the independent national state, biblical religion and the family. Yoram Hazony, WSJ, "Is ‘Classical Liberalism’ Conservative?," 13 Oct. 2017 Reentering it with empiricism and moderation to find different compromises for different issues is the only way out of our increasingly dangerous impasse. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Can Our Democracy Survive Tribalism?," 19 Sep. 2017 The witch rejects empiricism; by embracing witchcraft, the young woman is rehabilitating an old, stigmatized identity and finding within it a source of strength. Josephine Livingstone, New Republic, "Donald Trump and the Witch," 21 July 2017

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

1658, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for empiricism

empiric + -ism

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Time Traveler for empiricism

The first known use of empiricism was in 1658

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English Language Learners Definition of empiricism

: the practice of basing ideas and theories on testing and experience


em·​pir·​i·​cism | \im-ˈpir-ə-ˌsiz-əm, em- \

Medical Definition of empiricism 

1a : a former school of medical practice based on the teachings of the empirics

b : quackery

2 : the practice of relying on observation and experiment especially in the natural sciences

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More from Merriam-Webster on empiricism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with empiricism

Britannica English: Translation of empiricism for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about empiricism

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