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

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 Big stuff consists of smaller, more fundamental stuff — an idea known as reductionism. Quanta Magazine, 1 Mar. 2022 The strategy to confine the outbreak in the U.S. was based on biomedical reductionism, which reduces infectious diseases to their biological, chemical, and physical aspects. Judith D. Auerbach And Andrew D. Forsyth, STAT, 10 Mar. 2022 In a slew of recent papers, researchers have thrown reductionism to the wind. Quanta Magazine, 1 Mar. 2022 Kruger’s epigrams differ from other forms of reductionism, including the journalistic sound bite and the political slogan. Washington Post, 4 Oct. 2021 But Barzun’s short anatomy of Marx and Marxism, quietly devastating, is permanently worth reading for its clear understanding and lucid explanation of the self-contradictory and damaging character of Marxism and all forms of reductionism. M. D. Aeschliman, National Review, 30 May 2021 Race reductionism is also fundamentally corrosive to more focused efforts to reckon with this new era of inequality, thanks to its constitutional failure to recognize change and the workings of historical processes, both on and among black people. Adolph Reed Jr., The New Republic, 17 Feb. 2021 Indeed, the unitary constructs of race reductionism themselves originate from historically specific sources. Adolph Reed Jr., The New Republic, 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, 8 Dec. 2020 See More

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.

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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reduction potential

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Last Updated

3 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Reductionism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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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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