[at-uh-miz-uh m]
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  1. Also called atomic theory. Philosophy. the theory that minute, discrete, finite, and indivisible elements are the ultimate constituents of all matter.
  2. Psychology. a method or theory that reduces all psychological phenomena to simple elements.

Origin of atomism

First recorded in 1670–80
Related formsat·om·ist, nounat·om·is·tic, at·om·is·ti·cal, adjectiveat·om·is·ti·cal·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for atomistic

atomics, nucleonics

Examples from the Web for atomistic

Contemporary Examples of atomistic

  • Such a committee can judge people in full, not as an atomistic collection of receipts and isolated life events.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Appoint Real People, Not Saints

    Philip K. Howard

    March 25, 2009

Historical Examples of atomistic

British Dictionary definitions for atomistic


  1. an ancient philosophical theory, developed by Democritus and expounded by Lucretius, that the ultimate constituents of the universe are atomsSee atom (def. 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 wholeCompare holism (def. 3)
  2. psychol the theory that experiences and mental states are composed of elementary units
Derived Formsatomist, noun, adjectiveatomistic or atomistical, adjectiveatomistically, 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

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