ge·​stalt gə-ˈstält How to pronounce gestalt (audio)
-ˈshtȯlt How to pronounce gestalt (audio)
plural gestalts also gestalten gə-ˈstäl-tᵊn How to pronounce gestalt (audio)
: something that is made of many parts and yet is somehow more than or different from the combination of its parts
When he gets rolling, you're not responding to single jokes—it's the whole gestalt of the movie that's funny. Pauline Kael
broadly : the general quality or character of something
When new employees are recruited fresh out of college and can look forward to working for the same company for 40 years, it changes the gestalt of management. Brenton R. Schlender
… the Old Hollywood gestalt, where daughters adored and romanticized their charismatic, powerful, often unavailable fathers. Nora Johnson

Example Sentences

the gestalt of human consciousness
Recent Examples on the Web For some, the gestalt of pandan goes even further back than childhood. Samuel Anderson, Vogue, 2 Nov. 2022 The overall gestalt of the approach is that a spy is being placed in the midst of the firm. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 13 Aug. 2022 These run as distinctive currents throughout and lend to an overall gestalt as satisfying as a fine musical album that leaves thrum and echo in its wake. oregonlive, 6 Apr. 2022 One woman is sure that the new management will bring new occupants and a new overall attitude, but another argues that the Chelsea’s bohemian excess is baked into its gestalt. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 Feb. 2022 Instead, the directors deliver the gestalt of the Chelsea, the overall sensation conveyed by the building, its past and its scaffolded present. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 Feb. 2022 When the film doesn’t fit with NASA’s gestalt, filmmakers can’t use the agency’s logo. Washington Post, 16 Jan. 2022 In 1980, a year after she was hired to run Interiors, Ms. Russell told The New York Times that her editorial vision would embrace the go-go gestalt of the impending decade. New York Times, 29 Dec. 2021 It’s an eerie gestalt, a foreboding feeling of unbookiness. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, 14 Sep. 2021 See More

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

Word History


German, literally, shape, form

First Known Use

1922, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of gestalt was in 1922

Dictionary Entries Near gestalt

Cite this Entry

“Gestalt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

Medical Definition


plural gestalten -ᵊn How to pronounce gestalt (audio) or gestalts
: a structure, arrangement, or pattern of physical, biological, or psychological phenomena so integrated as to constitute a functional unit with properties not derivable by summation of its parts

More from Merriam-Webster on gestalt

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