[ em-pir-uh-siz-uhm ]
See synonyms for empiricism on Thesaurus.com
  1. empirical method or practice.

  2. Philosophy. the doctrine that all knowledge is derived from sense experience.: Compare rationalism (def. 2).

  1. undue reliance upon experience, as in medicine; quackery.

  2. an empirical conclusion.

Origin of empiricism

First recorded in 1650–60; empiric + -ism

Other words from empiricism

  • em·pir·i·cist, noun, adjective
  • an·ti·em·pir·i·cism, noun
  • an·ti·em·pir·i·cist, noun, adjective
  • non·em·pir·i·cism, noun
  • pro·em·pir·i·cism, noun, adjective
  • pro·em·pir·i·cist, noun

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use empiricism in a sentence

  • William James, who called himself a "radical empiricist," made much of this point.

    The Behavior of Crowds | Everett Dean Martin
  • But such assumptions are an offence to the expert empiricist.

    Soliloquies in England | George Santayana
  • The modern philosopher who has professed himself an empiricist has usually had a critical purpose in mind.

  • By the modern philosophic empiricist and by his opponent, experience has been looked upon just as a way of knowing.

  • If he became a perfect empiricist he would trust experience only if it taught him absolutely nothing, even about his own past.

    Soliloquies in England | George Santayana

British Dictionary definitions for empiricism


/ (ɛmˈpɪrɪˌsɪzəm) /

  1. philosophy the doctrine that all knowledge of matters of fact derives from experience and that the mind is not furnished with a set of concepts in advance of experience: Compare intuitionism, rationalism

  2. the use of empirical methods

  1. medical quackery; charlatanism

Derived forms of empiricism

  • empiricist, noun, 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