no·​mo·​thet·​ic ˌnä-mə-ˈthe-tik How to pronounce nomothetic (audio) ˌnō- How to pronounce nomothetic (audio)
: relating to, involving, or dealing with abstract, general, or universal statements or laws

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Nomothetic is often contrasted with idiographic, a word meaning "relating to or dealing with something concrete, individual, or unique." Where idiographic points to the specific and unique, nomothetic points to the general and consistent. The immediate Greek parent of nomothetic is a word meaning "of legislation"; the word has its roots in nomos, meaning "law," and -thetēs, meaning "one who establishes." Nomos has played a part in the histories of words as varied as metronome, autonomous, and Deuteronomy. The English contributions of -thetēs are meager, but -thetēs itself comes from tithenai, meaning "to put," and tithenai is the ancestor of many common words ending in -thesishypothesis, parenthesis, prosthesis, synthesis, and thesis itself—as well as theme, epithet, and apothecary.

Examples of nomothetic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Other approaches can help support the suggestions made by nomothetic studies, such as experiments and models. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 25 Jan. 2013

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

Word History


borrowed from New Latin nomotheticus "law-giving, legislative," borrowed from Greek nomethetikós "worthy of a law-giver, skilled in legislation," from nomothétēs "law-giver, legislator" (from nómos "custom, convention, law" —noun derivative of némein "to pasture [animals], rule, direct, distribute, apportion," middle voice némesthai "to feed on, occupy, inhabit"— + -o- -o- + -thetēs, from the-, stem of tithénai "to put, place, institute, establish" + -tēs, agent suffix) + -ikos -ic entry 1 — more at nimble, do entry 1

First Known Use

1904, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of nomothetic was in 1904


Dictionary Entries Near nomothetic

Cite this Entry

“Nomothetic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jul. 2024.

Medical Definition


no·​mo·​thet·​ic ˌnäm-ə-ˈthet-ik How to pronounce nomothetic (audio) ˌnō-mə- How to pronounce nomothetic (audio)
: relating to, involving, or dealing with abstract, general, or universal statements or laws compare idiographic
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