meta·​phys·​ics ˌme-tə-ˈfi-ziks How to pronounce metaphysics (audio)
plural in form but singular in construction
: a division of philosophy that is concerned with the fundamental nature of reality and being and that includes ontology, cosmology, and often epistemology
metaphysics … analyzes the generic traits manifested by existences of any kindJ. H. Randall
: abstract philosophical studies : a study of what is outside objective experience
steered philosophy away from metaphysics and toward the disciplines of natural science and linguisticsTime

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Just as physics deals with the laws that govern the physical world (such as those of gravity or the properties of waves), metaphysics describes what is beyond physics—the nature and origin of reality itself, the immortal soul, and the existence of a supreme being. Opinions about these metaphysical topics vary widely, since what's being discussed can't be observed or measured or even truly known to exist. So most metaphysical questions are still as far from a final answer as they were when Plato and Aristotle were asking them.

Examples of metaphysics in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Ninth House The ninth house is the philosophical house, ruling over religion, metaphysics, and higher education. Narayana Montúfar, Women's Health, 14 Aug. 2023 But Nolan misses the deeper metaphysics undergirding the drama. WIRED, 24 July 2023 Like Wolfe, who shaped the metaphysics of Book of the New Sun around his own Catholic views, Palmer would incorporate her own hodgepodge of theological and intellectual influences—a divine plan shaped by a historian's view of how society actually progresses. Gregory Barber, Wired, 10 Feb. 2022 At eighteen, Leibniz had decided that the highest effort of philosophy would be to construct a language of metaphysics that could perfect the extension of human thought with no less precision or glory than the telescope had perfected the extension of the human eye. Merve Emre, The New York Review of Books, 16 Jan. 2020 The Gnomons devote themselves equally to metaphysics and to the pointless disputes and exacerbations of day-to-day operations. Scott Bradfield, The New Republic, 7 Apr. 2023 The album isn’t all soothing Yoda metaphysics. Jon Dolan, Rolling Stone, 15 Oct. 2021 Smith was a fascinating but mysterious figure -- a mystic who was part of the secret occultist society the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which borrowed ideas from Kabbalah and freemasonry for its own spiritual belief system centered on magic and metaphysics. CNN, 12 May 2022 But even the most rarefied metaphysics at TSMC rest on a tangible substrate: silicon. Virginia Heffernan, WIRED, 21 Mar. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Medieval Latin Metaphysica, title of Aristotle's treatise on the subject, from Greek (ta) meta (ta) physika, literally, the (works) after the physical (works); from its position in his collected works

First Known Use

1569, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Time Traveler
The first known use of metaphysics was in 1569

Dictionary Entries Near metaphysics

Cite this Entry

“Metaphysics.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


meta·​phys·​ics ˌmet-ə-ˈfiz-iks How to pronounce metaphysics (audio)
: the part of philosophy concerned with the ultimate causes and basic nature of things

from Latin Metaphysica, title given to a work by Aristotle on the subject, from Greek (ta) meta (ta) physika, literally, "the (works) after the physical (works)"; so called because this section came after the section on physics and physical nature in a collection of Aristotle's collected writings

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