re·​duc·​tion·​ism | \ ri-ˈdək-shə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce reductionism (audio) \

Definition of reductionism

1 : explanation of complex life-science processes and phenomena in terms of the laws of physics and chemistry also : a theory or doctrine that complete reductionism is possible
2 : a procedure or theory that reduces complex data and phenomena to simple terms

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Other Words from reductionism

reductionist \ ri-​ˈdək-​sh(ə-​)nist How to pronounce reductionism (audio) \ noun or adjective
reductionistic \ ri-​ˌdək-​shə-​ˈni-​stik How to pronounce reductionism (audio) \ adjective

Examples of reductionism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Indeed, the unitary constructs of race reductionism themselves originate from historically specific sources. Adolph Reed Jr., The New Republic, "The Retrograde Quest for Symbolic Prophets of Black Liberation," 17 Feb. 2021 That is one of the most intellectually disturbing features of the irrationalist race reductionism of our own historical moment. Adolph Reed Jr., The New Republic, "Beyond the Great Awokening," 8 Dec. 2020 His interest in complexity and his aversion to reductionism led him to help found the Santa Fe Institute, with its concern for interdisciplinary work. Martin Weil, Washington Post, "Philip Anderson, Nobel-winning theoretical physicist, dies at 96," 1 Apr. 2020 Between these two poles lie stereotyping and reductionism: Recently, a Washington Post article about a large Florida retirement community highlighted different responses among older people to the outbreak. Louise Aronson, The Atlantic, "Ageism Is Making the Pandemic Worse," 28 Mar. 2020 For black men such as Sepuya, that kind of reductionism hurts emotionally. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "Time for a Riot: Camp Fashion at the Met, and a Real Riot at the Stonewall," 31 Aug. 2019 Ultimately, the brain-soup technique’s central strength — its reductionism — is also its weakness. Ferris Jabr, New York Times, "To Unlock the Brain’s Mysteries, Purée It," 14 Dec. 2017 Such reductionism has its charms, and bears some resemblance to the truth. Carlos Eire, New York Times, "Slaying the Dragon of the Dark Ages," 18 Dec. 2017 But hyperbolic reductionism of this sort will be offensive to the vast majority of historians. Carlos Eire, New York Times, "Slaying the Dragon of the Dark Ages," 18 Dec. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reductionism.' 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 reductionism

1925, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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Time Traveler for reductionism Time Traveler

The first known use of reductionism was in 1925

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Statistics for reductionism

Last Updated

25 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Reductionism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for reductionism


re·​duc·​tion·​ism | \ ri-ˈdək-shə-ˌniz-əm How to pronounce reductionism (audio) \

Medical Definition of reductionism

1 : the attempt to explain all biological processes by the same explanations (as by physical laws) that chemists and physicists use to interpret inanimate matter also : the theory that complete reductionism is possible
2 : a procedure or theory that reduces complex data or phenomena to simple terms

Other Words from reductionism

reductionist \ -​sh(ə-​)nəst How to pronounce reductionism (audio) \ or reductionistic \ -​ˌdək-​shə-​ˈnis-​tik How to pronounce reductionism (audio) \ adjective

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