[ hyoo-ris-tik or, often, yoo- ]
See synonyms for heuristic on Thesaurus.com
  1. serving to indicate or point out; stimulating interest as a means of furthering investigation.

  2. encouraging a person to learn, discover, understand, or solve problems independently, as by experimenting, evaluating possible answers or solutions, or by trial and error: The course uses a heuristic teaching method to allow students to find answers without being directly taught.

  1. of, relating to, or based on experimentation, evaluation, or trial-and-error methods.

  2. Computers, Mathematics. pertaining to a trial-and-error method of problem solving used when an algorithmic approach is impractical.

  1. a heuristic method of argument.

  2. the study of heuristic procedure.

Origin of heuristic

First recorded in 1815–25; from New Latin heuristicus, equivalent to Greek heur(ískein) “to find out, discover” + Latin -isticus -istic

Other words from heuristic

  • heu·ris·ti·cal·ly, adverb
  • non·heu·ris·tic, adjective
  • un·heu·ris·tic, adjective
  • un·heu·ris·ti·cal·ly, adverb

Words Nearby heuristic

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use heuristic in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for heuristic


/ (hjʊəˈrɪstɪk) /

  1. helping to learn; guiding in discovery or investigation

  2. (of a method of teaching) allowing pupils to learn things for themselves

    • maths science philosophy using or obtained by exploration of possibilities rather than by following set rules

    • computing denoting a rule of thumb for solving a problem without the exhaustive application of an algorithm: a heuristic solution

  1. (plural) the science of heuristic procedure

Origin of heuristic

C19: from New Latin heuristicus, from Greek heuriskein to discover

Derived forms of heuristic

  • heuristically, 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