em·​pir·​i·​cism | \ im-ˈpir-ə-ˌsi-zəm How to pronounce empiricism (audio) , em- \

Definition of empiricism

1a : a former school of medical practice founded on experience without the aid of science or theory
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 How to pronounce empiricist (audio) , em-​ \ noun

Examples of empiricism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The byproducts—the tribalism, the chilling demands for conformity of thought, the questioning of science and empiricism—can sometimes be alarming, even frightening. Richard Aldous, WSJ, "‘The Age of Entitlement’ Review: The Dividing Line," 17 Jan. 2020 Liberalism’s ancestry has been traced back to John Locke’s writings on individual reason, Adam Smith’s economic theory, and the empiricism of David Hume, but today the doctrine seems to contain potentially contradictory elements. Pankaj Mishra, The New Yorker, "Liberalism According to The Economist," 4 Nov. 2019 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

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of empiricism was in 1658

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Statistics for empiricism

Last Updated

25 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Empiricism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empiricist?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=e&file=empiri06. Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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How to pronounce empiricism (audio)

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- How to pronounce empiricism (audio) \

Medical Definition of empiricism

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