phi·​los·​o·​phy | \ fə-ˈlä-s(ə-)fē How to pronounce philosophy (audio) \
plural philosophies

Definition of philosophy

1a(1) : all learning exclusive of technical precepts and practical arts
(2) : the sciences and liberal arts exclusive of medicine, law, and theology a doctor of philosophy
(3) : the 4-year college course of a major seminary
b(1) archaic : physical science
(2) : ethics
c : a discipline comprising as its core logic, aesthetics, ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology
2a : pursuit of wisdom
b : a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means
c : an analysis of the grounds of and concepts expressing fundamental beliefs
3a : a system of philosophical concepts
b : a theory underlying or regarding a sphere of activity or thought the philosophy of war
4a : the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group
b : calmness of temper and judgment befitting a philosopher

Synonyms for philosophy


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Examples of philosophy in a Sentence

There's plenty of blame to go around: poor regulation, eight years of a failed Republican economic philosophy, Wall Street-friendly Democrats who helped stymie reform, misguided bipartisan efforts to promote home ownership, Wall Street greed, corrupt CEOs, a botched rescue effort, painfully fallible central bankers. — Daniel Gross, Newsweek, 9 Mar. 2009 Broadly speaking, philosophy has three concerns: how the world hangs together, how our beliefs can be justified, and how to live. — Jim Holt, New York Times Book Review, 15 Feb. 2009 Almost none of the kids were older than twenty-five, as if there were a sell-by date on radical social philosophy, a legal age limit after which one must surrender lofty ideals and shave off all dreadlocks. — Matthew Power, Harper's, March 2008 In their mission statement, the editors bragged of their firm commitment to equality and social justice, but their philosophy didn't prevent them from summoning Lindsey to perform all their menial tasks. — Kim Wong Keltner, The Dim Sum of All Things, 2004 Her degree is in philosophy and religion. The group eventually split over conflicting political philosophies. Her main cooking philosophy is to use only fresh ingredients. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Boston’s philosophy is to make the game difficult for Curry on both ends. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, 11 June 2022 The Cost of Customer Satisfaction: The perfect way to wrap up this article is with Mezger’s philosophy on investing in and taking care of customers. Shep Hyken, Forbes, 5 June 2022 Taoism is an eastern monistic philosophy that inspired the Force in the original Star Wars. Josh St. Clair, Men's Health, 1 June 2022 In Hawai‘i, aloha ʻāina (love of the land) is a philosophy of caring for one’s own place and for the environment. Rachel Ng, Bon Appétit, 19 May 2022 Put simply, statistics is philosophy more than mathematical computation. Yasin Kakande,, 18 May 2022 Here, more than ever, Hong’s cinema is also revealed to be a philosophy—his method not a means but an end in itself, an embrace of the history of the art and a preservation of its future in the eternal present tense of creation. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 5 May 2022 That's the philosophy behind community fridges, a growing movement of mutual aid that supports neighborhoods in need while tackling food waste and turning a keen eye to the larger causes of food insecurity. Leah Abucayan, CNN, 15 Apr. 2022 Throughout, what remains a constant is Dr. Fanti’s new philosophy of practicing medicine and of trying to find ways to cure even rare diseases that are considered uncurable. Nick Vivarelli, Variety, 25 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'philosophy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of philosophy

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for philosophy

Middle English philosophie, from Anglo-French, from Latin philosophia, from Greek, from philosophos philosopher

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Time Traveler for philosophy

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The first known use of philosophy was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near philosophy



philosophy of life

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Last Updated

17 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Philosophy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for philosophy


phi·​los·​o·​phy | \ fə-ˈlä-sə-fē How to pronounce philosophy (audio) \
plural philosophies

Kids Definition of philosophy

1 : the study of the basic ideas about knowledge, right and wrong, reasoning, and the value of things
2 : a specific set of ideas of a person or a group Greek philosophy
3 : a set of ideas about how to do something or how to live Live and let live—that's my philosophy.

More from Merriam-Webster on philosophy

Nglish: Translation of philosophy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of philosophy for Arabic Speakers


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