• synonyms


[dih-tur-muh-niz-uh m]
See more synonyms for determinism on Thesaurus.com
  1. the doctrine that all facts and events exemplify natural laws.
  2. the doctrine that all events, including human choices and decisions, have sufficient causes.
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Origin of determinism

First recorded in 1840–50; determine + -ism
Related formsde·ter·min·ist, noun, adjectivede·ter·min·is·tic, adjectivede·ter·min·is·ti·cal·ly, adverbnon·de·ter·min·ist, noun, adjectivenon·de·ter·min·is·tic, adjectivesem·i·de·ter·min·is·tic, adjective
Can be confuseddeterminism fatalism necessitarianism
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for determinism

Historical Examples

  • We can ignore here the metaphysical question of freewill and determinism.

    Evolution in Modern Thought

    Ernst Haeckel

  • The problem which was the cause of the difference was that of free will and determinism.

  • As for the latter, we should not exaggerate its determinism.

  • I have discussed this question at length in my "Determinism or Free Will."

    Theism or Atheism

    Chapman Cohen

  • Determinism does not imply that actions are necessary in this sense.

British Dictionary definitions for determinism


  1. 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 illusoryCompare free will (def. 1b)
  2. the scientific doctrine that all occurrences in nature take place in accordance with natural laws
  3. 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
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Derived Formsdeterminist, noun, adjectivedeterministic, 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

Word Origin and History for determinism


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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

determinism in Medicine


  1. 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.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

determinism in Culture


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.

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