phi·​los·​o·​phy | \ fə-ˈlä-s(ə-)fē How to pronounce philosophy (audio) \
plural philosophies

Definition of philosophy

1a(1) : all learning exclusive of technical precepts and practical arts
(2) : the sciences and liberal arts exclusive of medicine, law, and theology a doctor of philosophy
(3) : the 4-year college course of a major seminary
b(1) archaic : physical science
(2) : ethics
c : a discipline comprising as its core logic, aesthetics, ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology
2a : pursuit of wisdom
b : a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means
c : an analysis of the grounds of and concepts expressing fundamental beliefs
3a : a system of philosophical concepts
b : a theory underlying or regarding a sphere of activity or thought the philosophy of war
4a : the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group
b : calmness of temper and judgment befitting a philosopher

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Examples of philosophy in a Sentence

There's plenty of blame to go around: poor regulation, eight years of a failed Republican economic philosophy, Wall Street-friendly Democrats who helped stymie reform, misguided bipartisan efforts to promote home ownership, Wall Street greed, corrupt CEOs, a botched rescue effort, painfully fallible central bankers. — Daniel Gross, Newsweek, 9 Mar. 2009 Broadly speaking, philosophy has three concerns: how the world hangs together, how our beliefs can be justified, and how to live. — Jim Holt, New York Times Book Review, 15 Feb. 2009 Almost none of the kids were older than twenty-five, as if there were a sell-by date on radical social philosophy, a legal age limit after which one must surrender lofty ideals and shave off all dreadlocks. — Matthew Power, Harper's, March 2008 In their mission statement, the editors bragged of their firm commitment to equality and social justice, but their philosophy didn't prevent them from summoning Lindsey to perform all their menial tasks. — Kim Wong Keltner, The Dim Sum of All Things, 2004 Her degree is in philosophy and religion. The group eventually split over conflicting political philosophies. Her main cooking philosophy is to use only fresh ingredients.
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Recent Examples on the Web The next-man-up philosophy paid off last week, with big plays by Harrison, Sheldrick Redwine, Rashard Higgins and Chris Hubbard, who filled in for Teller. Scott Patsko, cleveland, "Jack Conklin vs. T.J. Watt highlights Browns vs. Steelers: 3 Quick Pregame Thoughts," 18 Oct. 2020 Judge Barrett managed to keep the focus on what mattered—record, philosophy, the big picture. Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, "A Justice Is Worth 1,000 Tweets," 15 Oct. 2020 Room & Board’s three-legged stool philosophy — people, planet and profit. John Ewoldt, Star Tribune, "Furniture retailer Room & Board has best August, September in history," 15 Oct. 2020 Finalists were selected based on a set of national criteria that included student achievement, teaching philosophy, academic results, community involvement, and knowledge of education issues. Baltimore Sun Staff,, "Baltimore City middle school teacher Wyatt Oroke named 2020-21 Maryland Teacher of the Year," 9 Oct. 2020 Its conspiratorial outlook, influenced in equal measure by anime, Far Eastern philosophy, video games, and dystopian science fiction, was tailored to appeal to intellectually curious, socially alienated young citizens. Matt Alt, The New Yorker, "The Flashing Warning of QAnon," 26 Sep. 2020 This philosophy, premised on racist beliefs of the past, doesn’t align with any of America’s ambitions in space exploration today. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, "The Language of Space Exploration Is Stuck in the 1800s," 17 Sep. 2020 There’s something almost stoic about Touitou, and by extension, A.P.C.’s philosophy, with its quiet quest for perfection and timelessness. Lisa Wood Shapiro,, "I Can’t Quit You: An Ode To The Dress That Taught Me How To Dress," 14 Sep. 2020 Dual enrollment offerings include classes in mathematics, English, history, biology, food science, physics, chemistry, accounting, business, psychology, philosophy, Spanish, sociology, speech and theology. Staff Report,, "Tulane researchers focus on COVID-19 vaccines; Xavier scholarships; and more metro-area college news," 9 Sep. 2020

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

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First Known Use of philosophy

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for philosophy

Middle English philosophie, from Anglo-French, from Latin philosophia, from Greek, from philosophos philosopher

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Time Traveler for philosophy

Time Traveler

The first known use of philosophy was in the 14th century

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Statistics for philosophy

Last Updated

26 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Philosophy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for philosophy


How to pronounce philosophy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of philosophy

: the study of ideas about knowledge, truth, the nature and meaning of life, etc.
: a particular set of ideas about knowledge, truth, the nature and meaning of life, etc.
: a set of ideas about how to do something or how to live


phi·​los·​o·​phy | \ fə-ˈlä-sə-fē How to pronounce philosophy (audio) \
plural philosophies

Kids Definition of philosophy

1 : the study of the basic ideas about knowledge, right and wrong, reasoning, and the value of things
2 : a specific set of ideas of a person or a group Greek philosophy
3 : a set of ideas about how to do something or how to live Live and let live—that's my philosophy.

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