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

Examples of gestalt in a Sentence

the gestalt of human consciousness
Recent Examples on the Web Therapists are typically trained in a number of different modalities, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), gestalt therapy, somatic therapy, and art therapy. Time, 24 Aug. 2023 The man’s gestalt was designed for accompaniment on harmonica. Dan Piepenbring, Harper's Magazine, 14 Aug. 2023 Rather than laying out a factoid chronology, Lusztig, with strong, clear-eyed work by Frantzen, captures Richland’s gestalt, interweaving a potent selection of new interviews, archival footage, music and song. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 June 2023 Some ores have a singular taste and smell, their presence pulses in the ambient air and can be pinned down in the word geologists often use: its facies, the gestalt of complex rock formations. Paul Theroux, Harper's Magazine, 11 Aug. 2022 Even so, his comments about the possible positive impacts of climate change neatly summed up the gestalt of the conference. Tom Yulsman, Discover Magazine, 21 Feb. 2013 In the vast constellation of conservative figures, there are few who have exhibited both the gravity and luminosity of Matt Schlapp, chair of the powerful American Conservative Union, and longtime powerhouse within a particular right-wing gestalt. Rafi Schwartz, The Week, 2 Mar. 2023 But the different themes, the gestalt of the music, the sonic fabric, and the instruments, are determined prior. Sonya Alexander, Rolling Stone, 26 Feb. 2023 Its gestalt can be summed up like this: Global warming is bad for the world. Tom Yulsman, Discover Magazine, 13 Feb. 2013 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gestalt.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 4 Dec. 2023.

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

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