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 With only limited and inadequate democratic mechanisms at their disposal, Hong Kongers have developed a vibrant and increasingly militant protest culture as a primary means for exercising political influence. David Skidmore, The Conversation, "China can still salvage ‘one country, two systems’ in Hong Kong – here’s how," 6 Jan. 2020 Mr Cummings has lambasted cabinet government as an outdated, oversized decision-making mechanism. The Economist, "Britain after Brexit Dominic Cummings’s plan to reshape the state," 2 Jan. 2020 Without a stable, long-term funding mechanism, charter schools cannot present a true budget to an authorizer and cannot open. Olivia Krauth, The Courier-Journal, "Newport school board rejects Kentucky's first charter school application," 26 Dec. 2019 Authorities point to an existing complaints mechanism, the Independent Police Complaints Council, that has been tasked with reviewing police behavior in relation to the protests. Washington Post, "In Hong Kong crackdown, police repeatedly broke their own rules — and faced no consequences," 24 Dec. 2019 Each relies on a different delivery mechanism (vector) to transport functional copies of a gene into the patient. Diane Blumenthal, STAT, "Manufacturing: the next breakthrough in gene therapy," 18 Dec. 2019 Although scientists don’t understand all of ketamine’s mechanisms, one of its central features is especially interesting to addiction researchers: its ability to block NMDA receptors—and thus potentially keep the brain from restabilizing a memory. Kelly Servick, Science | AAAS, "Ketamine disrupts memories to help heavy drinkers cut back," 26 Nov. 2019 On the basis of these cognitive mechanisms, certain songs sound appropriate in certain behavioral contexts. Jim Daley, Scientific American, "What Makes a Song? It’s the Same Recipe in Every Culture," 21 Nov. 2019 Philanthropy, broadly, lacks a real accountability mechanism, right? Norman Vanamee, Town & Country, "Meet the Rich Kids Who Want to Give Away All Their Money," 27 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for mechanism

Time Traveler

The first known use of mechanism was in 1662

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Statistics for mechanism

Last Updated

15 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Mechanism.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mechanism?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=m&file=mechan06. Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for mechanism

mechanism

noun
How to pronounce mechanism (audio)

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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