Definition of tabula rasa
tabulae rasaeplay \-ˌlī-ˈrä-ˌzī, -ˌsī\
1 : the mind in its hypothetical primary blank or empty state before receiving outside impressions
2 : something existing in its original pristine state
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Did You Know?
Philosophers have been arguing that babies are born with minds that are essentially blank slates since the days of Aristotle. (Later, some psychologists took up the case as well.) English speakers have called that initial state of mental blankness tabula rasa (a term taken from a Latin phrase that translates as "smooth or erased tablet") since the 16th century, but it wasn't until British philosopher John Locke championed the concept in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding in 1690 that the term gained widespread popularity in our language. In later years, a figurative sense of the term emerged, referring to something that exists in its original state and that has yet to be altered by outside forces.
Origin and Etymology of tabula rasa
Latin, smoothed or erased tablet
First Known Use: 1535See Words from the same year
Learn More about tabula rasa
Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tabula rasa
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