nom·​i·​nal·​ism ˈnä-mə-nə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce nominalism (audio)
: 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
: the theory that only individuals and no abstract entities (such as essences, classes, or propositions) exist compare essentialism, realism
ˈnä-mə-nə-list How to pronounce nominalism (audio)
nominalist adjective
or nominalistic
ˌnä-mə-nə-ˈli-stik How to pronounce nominalism (audio)

Examples of nominalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In philosophy, this tension between intrinsic and imposed categories takes the form of a debate between nominalism and realism. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, 14 Aug. 2023 Occam instead proposed what became known as nominalism. Andrew Crumey, WSJ, 8 Oct. 2021

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

Word History

First Known Use

1830, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of nominalism was in 1830

Dictionary Entries Near nominalism

Cite this Entry

“Nominalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

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