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 This very philosophy of memory, of empathy through self-examination and identification, is what Rogers puts into practice in guiding Vogel to confront his past and reconcile with his father. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "The Wondrous Heroism of Mr. Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”," 21 Nov. 2019 The small class sizes and the three-to-one student to teacher ratio makes this philosophy much easier to carry out. Jamie Swinnerton, Houston Chronicle, "Xavier Academy in The Woodlands sees success," 12 Nov. 2019 This philosophy paves the way for entertaining games for the public to watch. Emmett Hall,, "McDougle Technical Institute Bison football program winning on the field and in the classroom," 31 Oct. 2019 Early specialization is discouraged to the extent that Sport New Zealand have a website 'balance is better,' which promotes this philosophy. James Masters, CNN, "New Zealand: The 'small country at the bottom of the world' that keeps on rising to the top," 18 Oct. 2019 This philosophy is shared by the executive team across the board from Monte and Avery Lipman to our department head Joe Carozza. Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard, "Republic Records Ups Beau Benton to SVP, Media," 1 Oct. 2019 That, again, isn't about philosophy or workday logistics. Carolyn Hax, oregonlive, "Carolyn Hax: Adult daughter’s resentment building as she feels forced to care for irresponsible Mom," 30 Sep. 2019 Read this tome, follow this philosophy, change your habits and you, too, can be a management titan. The Economist, "Running a company is a permanent juggling act," 29 Aug. 2019 Well, the Reds are not the only team to complain perhaps about the pitching philosophy of the Pirates - throwing up and in, often. Dave Clark,, "LeCure, Welsh: Keone Kela's pitch at Derek Dietrich's head to blame in Reds-Pirates brawl," 31 July 2019

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

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Philosophy.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

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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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