ho·lis·tic | \hō-ˈli-stik \

Definition of holistic 

1 : of or relating to holism

2 : relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts holistic medicine attempts to treat both the mind and the body holistic ecology views humans and the environment as a single system

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Other Words from holistic

holistically \hō-ˈli-sti-k(ə-)lē \ adverb

Look at the Big Picture With Holistic

"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts" expresses the essence of holism, a term coined by the great South African general and statesman Jan Smuts in 1926. Holism generally opposes the Western tendency toward analysis, the breaking down of wholes into parts sometimes to the point that "you can't see the forest for the trees". Holism is an important concept in the sciences and social sciences, and especially in medicine. Holistic medicine tries to treat the "whole person" rather than focusing too narrowly on single symptoms. It emphasizes the connections between the mind and the body, avoids the overuse of drugs, and has borrowed such practices from Eastern traditions as acupuncture and yoga.

Examples of holistic in a Sentence

In a world of specialization, we have been trained to think of medicine as a separate world—when we are sick, we go to doctors and follow their advice. This is starting to change, with the increasing popularity of alternative and holistic approaches to overall health and well-being. — Gareth Cook, Boston Globe, 9 June 2002 The Gaia hypothesis is certainly top-down and holistic, and it's now generally accepted … Organisms have not just adapted to different physical environments; they also modify and improve the environment for their own good—just like people. — Tom Ghaffin, Natural History, October 1998 People with supermarket carts. When did these things come out of the stores and into the streets. She saw these things everywhere … filled with living trivia, the holistic dregs of everything if that is correctly put. — Don DeLillo, Mao II, 1991 Holistic medicine attempts to treat both the mind and the body. We need to take a more holistic approach to improving our schools.
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Recent Examples on the Web

My personal approach to wine is more holistic than anything else. Marissa A. Ross, Bon Appetit, "How to Get the Most Out of Your Sommelier," 29 May 2018 The group's holistic approach to helping struggling people level-up in life has resonated with thousands of fans all over the world. refinery29.com, "Queer Eye Season 3 Will Tackle A Whole New Part Of America," 13 July 2018 For years, the women talked about opening an independent practice with holistic approaches, including medical marijuana. Anne Saker, Cincinnati.com, "Medical marijuana: Meet some of Greater Cincinnati's first doctors who can sign Ohio medical marijuana cards," 10 July 2018 In 2012, Integral Care in Austin offered Taylor a holistic approach, with access to physical health care and a program to manage chronic disease, on top of her regular psychiatric care. Caroline Covington, Washington Post, "Texas Clinics Busting Traditional Silos Of Mental And Physical Health Care," 9 July 2018 By contrast, some of the most encouraging Alzheimer’s news of late has come not from pharmaceutical labs but from studies that take a more holistic look at how to grow old while at risk of the disease. Robert Weisman, BostonGlobe.com, "As drug development flounders, people fearing Alzheimer’s embrace lifestyle changes," 24 June 2018 Relying on federal management of disasters is not enough, and a more holistic approach is being sought. Jeff Schlegelmilch, Fortune, "The 2018 Hurricane Season Is Here. We Can’t Just Rely on the Federal Government to Help Us Prepare," 30 May 2018 The aspect that sets Truepoint apart from many of its industry peers is its holistic approach to wealth management using collaborative teams with diverse talents. Jessica Levy, Cincinnati.com, "Truepoint Wealth Counsel prices peace of mind to employees and clients alike," 8 June 2018 That’s why modern machine learning is trying to take a holistic approach, more akin to perception than logic. Jerry Kaplan, WSJ, "Why We Find Self-Driving Cars So Scary," 31 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'holistic.' 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 holistic

1926, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for holistic

hol(ism) + -istic

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Last Updated

7 Sep 2018

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The first known use of holistic was in 1926

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English Language Learners Definition of holistic

: relating to or concerned with complete systems rather than with individual parts


ho·lis·tic | \hō-ˈlis-tik \

Medical Definition of holistic 

1 : of or relating to holism

2 : relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts holistic medicine attempts to treat both the mind and the body

Other Words from holistic

holistically \-ti-k(ə-)lē \ adverb

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