epi·​phe·​nom·​e·​non | \ ˌe-pi-fi-ˈnä-mə-ˌnän How to pronounce epiphenomenon (audio) , -nən \
plural epiphenomena\ ˌe-​pi-​fi-​ˈnä-​mə-​ˌnä How to pronounce epiphenomenon (audio) , -​nə \

Definition of epiphenomenon

: a secondary phenomenon accompanying another and caused by it specifically : a secondary mental phenomenon that is caused by and accompanies a physical phenomenon but has no causal influence itself

Examples of epiphenomenon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Dreams, in other words, were just a neurological epiphenomenon left over from the meaningful parts of sleep — a side effect, an accident of biology, much like the way an incandescent light bulb designed to create light also happens to put out heat. New York Times, 3 Nov. 2021 Physicists, notably Eugene Wigner and John Wheeler, have speculated that consciousness, far from being a mere epiphenomenon of matter, is an essential component of reality. John Horgan, Scientific American, 27 Sep. 2021 Life, according to Crick, was an epiphenomenon of physics and chemistry — complex, yes, but still explicable in molecular terms. New York Times, 24 Mar. 2021 Knowland is not an epiphenomenon of cancel culture writ large, a hapless victim of the times. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, 4 Dec. 2020 The new conspiracism is more than simply an offshoot or epiphenomenon of other forces such as authoritarianism or strident populism. N.c., The Economist, 12 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'epiphenomenon.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of epiphenomenon

circa 1706, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for epiphenomenon

borrowed from New Latin epiphenomen, epiphaenomenon, from epi- epi- + phenomenon, phaenomenon phenomenon

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The first known use of epiphenomenon was circa 1706

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Cite this Entry

“Epiphenomenon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epiphenomenon. Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for epiphenomenon


epi·​phe·​nom·​e·​non | \ ˌep-i-fə-ˈnäm-ə-ˌnän, -nən How to pronounce epiphenomenon (audio) \

Medical Definition of epiphenomenon

: an accidental or accessory event or process occurring in the course of a disease but not necessarily related to that disease


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