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[guh-shtahlt, -shtawlt, -stahlt, -stawlt] /gəˈʃtɑlt, -ˈʃtɔlt, -ˈstɑlt, -ˈstɔlt/
noun, plural gestalts, gestalten
[guh-shtahl-tn, -shtawl-, -stahl-, -stawl-] /gəˈʃtɑl tn, -ˈʃtɔl-, -ˈstɑl-, -ˈstɔl-/ (Show IPA).
(sometimes initial capital letter) Psychology.
a configuration, pattern, or organized field having specific properties that cannot be derived from the summation of its component parts; a unified whole.
an instance or example of such a unified whole.
Origin of gestalt
1920-25; < German: figure, form, structure Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for gestalt
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Momentarily, the gestalt fails, but the true moment of sight passes.

    Warm Robert Sheckley
  • His interest was not in gestalt or fixed form, Bildung or form change.

    Form and Function E. S. (Edward Stuart) Russell
  • The cognitive sum total is of a gestalt nature-much higher than the sum of its parts.

  • Perls transformed the gestalt psychologists' central idea so it would serve as a basis for his approach to psychotherapy.

  • If his action is successful, his gestalt is closed: the problem is resolved, and the motivation is fulfilled.

  • Like the gestalt of the psychologists, the closed gestalt of therapy signifies an organized whole.

  • In the example, the man suffering from thirst in the desert has a gestalt that impels him to find water.

  • When he does, his thirst is satisfied, and the gestalt is resolved into a whole that no longer stands in need of completion.

  • The main contribution of gestalt psychology consisted of studies of human perception.

British Dictionary definitions for gestalt


noun (pl) -stalts, -stalten (-ˈʃtæltən)
(sometimes not capital) a perceptual pattern or structure possessing qualities as a whole that cannot be described merely as a sum of its parts See also Gestalt psychology
Word Origin
C20: German: form, from Old High German stellen to shape
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 gestalt


1922, from German Gestaltqualität (1890, introduced by German philosopher Christian von Ehrenfels, 1859-1932), from German gestalt "shape, form, figure, configuration, appearance," abstracted from ungestalt "deformity," noun use of adj. ungestalt "misshapen," from gestalt, obsolete past participle of stellen "to place, arrange" (see stall (n.1)). As a school of psychology, it was founded c.1912 by M Wertheimer, K. Koffka, W. Köhler.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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gestalt in Medicine

gestalt ge·stalt or Ge·stalt (gə-shtält', -shtôlt', -stält', -stôlt')
n. pl. ge·stalts or ge·stalt·en (-shtält'n, -shtôlt'n, -stält'n, -stôlt'n)
A physical, biological, psychological, or symbolic configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that its properties cannot be derived from a simple summation of its parts. Also called gestalt phenomenon.

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