oc·​ca·​sion·​al·​ism | \ -zhənᵊlˌizəm, -zhnəˌli-\
plural -s

Definition of occasionalism

: a doctrine held by the Cartesian philosophers Geulincx and Malebranche that mind and matter are inherently incapable of affecting each other and that their apparent reciprocal action must therefore be due to the intervention of God who on the occasion of a change in one produces a corresponding change in the other — compare occasional cause

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

History and Etymology for occasionalism

International Scientific Vocabulary occasional entry 1 + -ism

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about occasionalism

Share occasionalism

Statistics for occasionalism

Look-up Popularity

More from Merriam-Webster on occasionalism

Britannica English: Translation of occasionalism for Arabic Speakers

Comments on occasionalism

What made you want to look up occasionalism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the range of authority or knowledge

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!