[ hyoo-ris-tik or, often, yoo- ]
/ hyʊˈrɪs tɪk or, often, yʊ- /


serving to indicate or point out; stimulating interest as a means of furthering investigation.
encouraging a person to learn, discover, understand, or solve problems on his or her own, as by experimenting, evaluating possible answers or solutions, or by trial and error: a heuristic teaching method.
of, relating to, or based on experimentation, evaluation, or trial-and-error methods.
Computers, Mathematics. pertaining to a trial-and-error method of problem solving used when an algorithmic approach is impractical.


a heuristic method of argument.
the study of heuristic procedure.

Origin of heuristic

1815–25; < New Latin heuristicus, equivalent to Greek heur(ískein) to find out, discover + Latin -isticus -istic


heu·ris·ti·cal·ly, adverbnon·heu·ris·tic, adjectiveun·heu·ris·tic, adjectiveun·heu·ris·ti·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for heuristics

British Dictionary definitions for heuristics (1 of 2)

/ (hjʊəˈrɪstɪks) /


(functioning as singular) maths logic a method or set of rules for solving problems other than by algorithmSee also algorithm (def. 1), artificial intelligence

British Dictionary definitions for heuristics (2 of 2)

/ (hjʊəˈrɪstɪk) /


helping to learn; guiding in discovery or investigation
(of a method of teaching) allowing pupils to learn things for themselves
  1. maths science philosophy using or obtained by exploration of possibilities rather than by following set rules
  2. computing denoting a rule of thumb for solving a problem without the exhaustive application of an algorithma heuristic solution


(plural) the science of heuristic procedure

Derived forms of heuristic

heuristically, adverb

Word Origin for heuristic

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