nom·​i·​nal·​ism | \ ˈnä-mə-nə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce nominalism (audio) , ˈnäm-nə-ˌli-zəm \

Definition of nominalism

1 : a theory that there are no universal essences in reality and that the mind can frame no single concept or image corresponding to any universal or general term
2 : the theory that only individuals and no abstract entities (such as essences, classes, or propositions) exist — compare essentialism, realism

Other Words from nominalism

nominalist \ ˈnä-​mə-​nə-​list How to pronounce nominalism (audio) , ˈnäm-​nə-​list \ noun
nominalist or nominalistic \ ˌnä-​mə-​nə-​ˈli-​stik How to pronounce nominalism (audio) , ˌnäm-​nə-​ˈli-​ \ adjective

Examples of nominalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Occam instead proposed what became known as nominalism. Andrew Crumey, WSJ, 8 Oct. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nominalism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of nominalism

1830, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of nominalism was in 1830

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Dictionary Entries Near nominalism

nominal essence



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Cite this Entry

“Nominalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Aug. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on nominalism

Britannica English: Translation of nominalism for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about nominalism


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