sys·​tem | \ˈsi-stəm \

Definition of system 

1 : a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole a number system : such as

a(1) : a group of interacting bodies under the influence of related forces a gravitational system

(2) : an assemblage of substances that is in or tends to equilibrium a thermodynamic system

b(1) : a group of body organs that together perform one or more vital functions the digestive system

(2) : the body considered as a functional unit

c : a group of related natural objects or forces a river system

d : a group of devices or artificial objects or an organization forming a network especially for distributing something or serving a common purpose a telephone system a heating system a highway system a computer system

e : a major division of rocks usually larger than a series and including all formed during a period or era

f : a form of social, economic, or political organization or practice the capitalist system

2 : an organized set of doctrines, ideas, or principles usually intended to explain the arrangement or working of a systematic whole the Newtonian system of mechanics

3a : an organized or established procedure the touch system of typing

b : a manner of classifying, symbolizing, or schematizing a taxonomic system the decimal system

4 : harmonious arrangement or pattern : order bring system out of confusion— Ellen Glasgow

5 : an organized society or social situation regarded as stultifying or oppressive : establishment sense 2 usually used with the

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Other Words from system

systemless \ ˈsi-​stəm-​ləs \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for system

method, mode, manner, way, fashion, system mean the means taken or procedure followed in achieving an end. method implies an orderly logical arrangement usually in steps. effective teaching methods mode implies an order or course followed by custom, tradition, or personal preference. the preferred mode of transportation manner is close to mode but may imply a procedure or method that is individual or distinctive. an odd manner of conducting way is very general and may be used for any of the preceding words. has her own way of doing things fashion may suggest a peculiar or characteristic way of doing something. rushing about in his typical fashion system suggests a fully developed or carefully formulated method often emphasizing rational orderliness. a filing system

Examples of system in a Sentence

The players like the coach's system. Under the new system, students will have to pass an exam to graduate. She devised a new filing system. We need a better system for handling incoming e-mail.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In response to possible ways of protecting students during an incident of gun violence, one Ohio Valley school district has announced plans to equip their school buildings with a high-tech pepper spray system. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Ohio School District to Install Pepper Spray “Threat Extinguisher” System," 13 July 2018 Confronting the unique complexity of health care demands an insider’s familiarity with the system and an outsider’s willingness to break it. Alexi Nazem, STAT, "Health care needs more physician CEOs like Atul Gawande," 13 July 2018 Lilis also signed on with the Salt Creek Midstream system under construction to process the oil and funnel it to the main pipeline arteries such as EPIC. Jordan Blum, San Antonio Express-News, "Lilis may be an acquisition target," 13 July 2018 Rides were temporarily shut down Thursday evening because of problems with the cooling system. Gabrielle Russon,, "Disney: Rides at Hollywood Studios working again," 13 July 2018 O’Donnell’s four-page complaint is posted on the Harford County Public Schools website, along with responses by Patrick Spicer, general counsel for the school system, and the state compliance board’s opinion. David Anderson, The Aegis, "Harford school board takes 'corrective action' after violating open meetings law," 13 July 2018 Toyota said the Eco mode reduces overall energy consumption by adjusting the climate control system and throttle to maximize efficiency. G. Chambers Williams Iii, Houston Chronicle, "COMPACT," 13 July 2018 That Atlanta attack brought the court system and the Atlanta Police Department to its knees. Brooke Crothers, Fox News, "Access to airport security systems are being sold by hackers for as little as $10," 13 July 2018 By the end of May, Puerto Rico plans to equip all hospitals, urgent care centers, fire stations and police stations with radio systems, Mr. Acevedo said. Frances Robles, New York Times, "FEMA Was Sorely Unprepared for Puerto Rico Hurricane, Report Says," 12 July 2018

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

circa 1638, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for system

Late Latin systemat-, systema, from Greek systēmat-, systēma, from synistanai to combine, from syn- + histanai to cause to stand — more at stand

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Statistics for system

Last Updated

10 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for system

The first known use of system was circa 1638

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More Definitions for system



English Language Learners Definition of system

: a group of related parts that move or work together

: a body of a person or animal thought of as an entire group of parts that work together

: a group of organs that work together to perform an important function of the body


sys·​tem | \ˈsi-stəm \

Kids Definition of system

1 : a group of parts combined to form a whole that works or moves as a unit a heating system A system of ropes and pulleys carried the baskets of stone … up to the ramparts.— Brian Jacques, Redwall

2 : a body that functions as a whole The disease weakened his entire system.

3 : a group of organs that together perform an important function in the body the nervous system

4 : an orderly way of managing, controlling, organizing, or doing something a democratic system of government Dad has a system for planting a garden.


sys·​tem | \ˈsis-təm \

Medical Definition of system 

1a : a group of body organs or structures that together perform one or more vital functions — see circulatory system, digestive system, endocrine system, limbic system, nervous system, reproductive system, respiratory system

b : the body considered as a functional unit

2 : a manner of classifying, symbolizing, or schematizing a taxonomic system

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More from Merriam-Webster on system

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for system

Spanish Central: Translation of system

Nglish: Translation of system for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of system for Arabic Speakers

Comments on system

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by force of circumstances

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