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[dih-tur-muh-niz-uh m] /dɪˈtɜr məˌnɪz əm/
the doctrine that all facts and events exemplify natural laws.
the doctrine that all events, including human choices and decisions, have sufficient causes.
Origin of determinism
First recorded in 1840-50; determine + -ism
Related forms
determinist, noun, adjective
deterministic, adjective
deterministically, adverb
nondeterminist, noun, adjective
nondeterministic, adjective
semideterministic, adjective
Can be confused
determinism, fatalism, necessitarianism. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for determinist
Historical Examples
  • The free-willist believes the appearance to be a reality: the determinist believes that it is an illusion.

  • But let us go over the determinist theory again, for it is most important.

    God and my Neighbour Robert Blatchford
  • A determinist, doubtless, could not admit the idea of punishment, but he will readily admit that of repression.

    Philosophic Nights In Paris Remy De Gourmont
  • The determinist cannot put his wisdom into action, because he is in a minority.

    God and my Neighbour Robert Blatchford
  • For the determinist looks for the cause of wrong-doing in the environment of the wrong-doer.

    God and my Neighbour Robert Blatchford
  • That is because the determinist understands human nature, and the Christian does not.

    God and my Neighbour Robert Blatchford
  • It is based upon the fallacious hypothesis that the determinist escapes, or hopes to escape, the consequences of his acts.

    Damn! Henry Louis Mencken
  • Berkeley had fully apprehended the determinist position; see vii.

    Parallel Paths Thomas William Rolleston
  • The determinist denies any limit to its theoretical application.

  • The determinist says as clearly as anyone that I do what I choose to do.

British Dictionary definitions for determinist


Also called necessitarianism. the philosophical doctrine that all events including human actions and choices are fully determined by preceding events and states of affairs, and so that freedom of choice is illusory Compare free will (sense 1b)
the scientific doctrine that all occurrences in nature take place in accordance with natural laws
the principle in classical mechanics that the values of dynamic variables of a system and of the forces acting on the system at a given time, completely determine the values of the variables at any later time
Derived Forms
determinist, noun, adjective
deterministic, adjective
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 determinist



1846, in theology (lack of free will); 1876 in general sense of "doctrine that everything happens by a necessary causation," from French déterminisme, from German Determinismus, perhaps a back-formation from Praedeterminismus (see determine).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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determinist in Medicine

determinism de·ter·min·ism (dĭ-tûr'mə-nĭz'əm)
The philosophical doctrine that every event, act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedents, such as genetic and environmental influences, that are independent of the human will.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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determinist in Culture

determinism definition

In ethics, the view that human actions are entirely controlled by previous conditions, operating under laws of nature. Determinism is often understood as ruling out free will.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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