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 reductionist (audio) \ noun or adjective
reductionistic \ ri-​ˌdək-​shə-​ˈni-​stik How to pronounce reductionistic (audio) \ adjective

Examples of reductionism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web 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 Scores of scientists and philosophers would (and do) dispute this sort of hyper-materialistic reductionism. Jeff Cimmino, National Review, "University of Chicago Professor: Infanticide Is Morally Acceptable," 19 July 2017 That danger of reductionism is certainly worth bearing in mind when considering how the two recent votes in Europe turned out. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "What Europe Needs: Hope," 6 Dec. 2016

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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The first known use of reductionism was in 1925

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Cite this Entry

“Reductionism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on reductionism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with reductionism Encyclopedia article about reductionism

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