mechanism

noun
mech·​a·​nism | \ ˈme-kə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce mechanism (audio) \

Definition of mechanism

1a : a piece of machinery (see machinery sense 1) The camera's shutter mechanism is broken.
b : a process, technique, or system for achieving a result the mechanisms of peace— F. D. Roosevelt
2 : mechanical operation or action : working sense 2 he acknowledges nothing besides matter and motion; so that all must be performed either by mechanism or by accident— Richard Bentley
3 : a doctrine that holds natural processes (as of life) to be mechanically determined and capable of complete explanation by the laws of physics and chemistry
4 : the fundamental processes involved in or responsible for an action, reaction, or other natural phenomenon meteorologists believe that this pressure jump is the mechanism responsible for storms and tornadoesThink — compare defense mechanism

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Examples of mechanism in a Sentence

The camera's shutter mechanism is broken. Scientists are studying the body's mechanisms for controlling weight. There is no mechanism in place for enforcing the new law. a legal mechanism to prevent lobbyists from exerting unfair influence psychological mechanisms for dealing with a tragic loss
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Recent Examples on the Web

The mechanisms in these cases are less well understood, Dr. Voigt says. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Quick Question: Why Do We Sneeze?," 8 Mar. 2019 Without the steadying mechanism, that could destabilize the markets in the long term. Brian Broderick And Sarah Kopit, latimes.com, "Trump administration freezes billions of dollars in payments to Obamacare insurers," 8 July 2018 In the exhibit, the mechanism by which the faux Jennie is whisked out of sight is to modern eyes charmingly obvious. Mary Carole Mccauley, baltimoresun.com, "Behind the magic of Harry Houdini at the Jewish Museum of Maryland," 29 June 2018 The back braces on the chair and the bases of both the chair and ottoman are aluminum, and the chair has a swivel mechanism. Maggie Burch, House Beautiful, "This Is What Makes The Eames Lounge Chair So Special," 7 Nov. 2018 Playing Tetris might be the perfect coping mechanism, according to a new study in the journal Emotion. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Study: Tetris is a great distraction for easing an anxious mind," 2 Nov. 2018 Perhaps most significantly, the new research finds that rapid intensification appears to be the key mechanism driving stronger storms in a warmer climate. Chris Mooney, The Seattle Times, "Category 6? Climate change may cause more hurricanes to rapidly intensify.," 11 Sep. 2018 The Lumenis LightSheer laser, one of the most popular diode lasers out there, even has a suction mechanism to distract your attention from the pain. Deanna Pai, Glamour, "The Brown Girl's Guide to Laser Hair Removal," 20 Aug. 2018 Our country has no central mechanism for reviewing or counting these deaths. Danielle Jackson, Longreads, "A Frustrating Year of Reporting on Black Maternal Health," 14 June 2018

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

1662, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Last Updated

12 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for mechanism

The first known use of mechanism was in 1662

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More Definitions for mechanism

mechanism

noun

English Language Learners Definition of mechanism

: a piece of machinery : a mechanical part or group of parts having a particular function
: a process or system that is used to produce a particular result
: a way of acting, thinking, or behaving that helps or protects a person in a specified way

mechanism

noun
mech·​a·​nism | \ ˈme-kə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce mechanism (audio) \

Kids Definition of mechanism

1 : a piece of machinery
2 : the parts by which a machine operates the mechanism of a watch
3 : the parts or steps that make up a process or activity the mechanism of government

mechanism

noun
mech·​a·​nism | \ ˈmek-ə-ˌniz-əm How to pronounce mechanism (audio) \

Medical Definition of mechanism

1 : a piece of machinery
2a : a bodily process or function the mechanism of healing
b : the combination of mental processes by which a result is obtained psychological mechanisms
3 : the fundamental physical or chemical processes involved in or responsible for an action, reaction, or other natural phenomenon

Other Words from mechanism

mechanistic \ ˌmek-​ə-​ˈnis-​tik How to pronounce mechanistic (audio) \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on mechanism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mechanism

Spanish Central: Translation of mechanism

Nglish: Translation of mechanism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mechanism for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about mechanism

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