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 Products aside, however, L’Oréal Paris’s philosophy is one that resonates with Chan, who just last year founded her own production company, Long House, to share stories from marginalized voices, the ones that often go untold. Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, "Gemma Chan on Self-Care and Being the New Face of L’Oréal Paris," 17 Nov. 2020 That interest carries over to his company, where the philosophy is about helping clients create meaningful relationships with their audiences. Amanda Mcelfresh,, "'Trust the process': How a NOLA native is breaking barriers in the communications world," 14 Nov. 2020 The philosophy behind in silico medicine is not new. Daniel E. Hurtado, Scientific American, "Virtual Patients Could Revolutionize Medicine," 10 Nov. 2020 Steaming is a different process altogether, but the philosophy is the same: Combine aromatics with douchi to form the foundation of the dish. Clarissa Wei, Bon Appétit, "Umami, Salty, and Rich, Douchi Does It All," 19 Oct. 2020 Financial advisor Bradley told me Byron’s philosophy was to avoid lawsuits and solve problems outside of courtrooms. Dave Lieber, Dallas News, "For Byron Nelson’s widow, her husband’s name on an apartment complex was a jolt. No one asked herThis article has comments enabled.," 9 Oct. 2020 That philosophy is particularly key on defense, where the opportunity for big offensive plays are created when one defender abandons his assignment in favor of trying to make a play elsewhere on the field. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky defense must address these issues to bounce back from 0-2 start," 9 Oct. 2020 Guerin’s philosophy is to nab the best player available, but the scouting staff will also consider positional need. Sarah Mclellan, Star Tribune, "Top-line center is main target of Wild in Tuesday's draft," 3 Oct. 2020 The philosophy behind public health is to use that truth for everyone. Nsikan Akpan, National Geographic, "A 'herd mentality' can’t stop the COVID-19 pandemic. Neither can a weak vaccine.," 2 Oct. 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

19 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Philosophy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 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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