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 Comparing and contrasting the characteristics of these planetary nurseries, including their density, age and chemical structure, is what will lead to that gestalt. Phil Plait, Scientific American, 15 Mar. 2024 Anti-modernism is thus the basic gestalt of Catholicism in the modern era. R. R. Reno, Foreign Affairs, 13 Nov. 2018 On Twitter, users construct different gestalts of the platform through their own feedback and engagement; in this respect, Musk’s usage pattern is many standard deviations away from what’s ordinary. Sheon Han, The New Yorker, 5 Jan. 2024 An exotic data scientist excels at inference and gestalt. Sarah Davanzo, Rolling Stone, 12 Dec. 2023 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

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 24 Jul. 2024.

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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