[dih-tur-muh-niz-uh m]
  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.

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for determinist

Historical Examples of determinist

  • While I am not a determinist, yet I admit we can't be free from ourselves.

    Painted Veils

    James Huneker

  • Being a man of scientific training, he is a determinist but not a fatalist.

    Six Major Prophets

    Edwin Emery Slosson

  • On the Determinist side there is a cumulative argument of great force.

    The Methods of Ethics

    Henry Sidgwick

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

    God and my Neighbour

    Robert Blatchford

  • It is because the Determinist understands morality, and the Christian does not.

    God and my Neighbour

    Robert Blatchford

British Dictionary definitions for determinist


  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
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 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

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

determinist 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.

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.