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 variation in the scaling of each section implies a sense of discontinuity, but also the same spirit of cartographic empiricism that speaks through the wider statistical maps of the 19th century. Popular Science, "Infographics have helped keep us alive for centuries," 7 Sep. 2020 But even the implications Hilditch draws from his armchair empiricism are faulty. Aaron Rhodes, National Review, "The American Understanding of Natural Rights," 24 Aug. 2020 At once driven by claims of biological determinism and supported by the authoritarian heft of British empiricism, Francis Galton pioneered an insidious form of human scrutiny that would come to be known as eugenics. Jessica Helfand, Scientific American, "Darwin, Expression, and the Lasting Legacy of Eugenics," 13 Aug. 2020 The empiricism that matters to Djokovic is his own experience, and his experience consists largely of winning. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, "Novak Djokovic Solves the Mind-Body Problem to Win the Australian Open," 2 Feb. 2020 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

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

11 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Empiricism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empiricism. Accessed 24 Sep. 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

More from Merriam-Webster on empiricism

Britannica English: Translation of empiricism for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about empiricism

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