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[at-uh-miz-uh m] /ˈæt əˌmɪz əm/
Also called atomic theory. Philosophy. the theory that minute, discrete, finite, and indivisible elements are the ultimate constituents of all matter.
Psychology. a method or theory that reduces all psychological phenomena to simple elements.
Origin of atomism
First recorded in 1670-80
Related forms
atomist, noun
atomistic, atomistical, adjective
atomistically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for atomistic


an ancient philosophical theory, developed by Democritus and expounded by Lucretius, that the ultimate constituents of the universe are atoms See atom (sense 3)
  1. any of a number of theories that hold that some objects or phenomena can be explained as constructed out of a small number of distinct types of simple indivisible entities
  2. any theory that holds that an understanding of the parts is logically prior to an understanding of the whole Compare holism (sense 3)
(psychol) the theory that experiences and mental states are composed of elementary units
Derived Forms
atomist, noun, adjective
atomistic, atomistical, adjective
atomistically, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for atomistic

1809, in reference to the classical philosophical doctrine of atomism (1670s); modern philosophical sense (logical atomism) traces to 1914 and Bertrand Russell.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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