noun sys·tem \ ˈsi-stəm \
Updated on: 26 May 2018

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
3 a : 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 2 usually used with the


play \ˈsi-stəm-ləs\ adjective

Examples of system in a Sentence

  1. The players like the coach's system.

  2. Under the new system, students will have to pass an exam to graduate.

  3. She devised a new filing system.

  4. We need a better system for handling incoming e-mail.

Recent Examples of system from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of system

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

SYSTEM Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of system for English Language Learners

  • : 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

SYSTEM Defined for Kids


noun sys·tem \ ˈsi-stəm \

Definition of system for Students

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.

Medical Dictionary


noun sys·tem \ ˈsis-təm \

medical Definition of system

1 a : 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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