[ hoh-mee-uh-stey-sis ]
/ ˌhoʊ mi əˈsteɪ sɪs /
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the tendency of a system, especially the physiological system of higher animals, to maintain internal stability, owing to the coordinated response of its parts to any situation or stimulus that would tend to disturb its normal condition or function.Compare allostasis.
Psychology. a state of psychological equilibrium obtained when tension or a drive has been reduced or eliminated.
Entomology. the ability of members of a colony of social insects to behave cooperatively to produce a desired result, as when bees coordinate the fanning of their wings to cool the hive.
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Origin of homeostasis

First recorded in 1925–30; homeo- + stasis

historical usage of homeostasis

Homeostasis is a technical term used in biology, physiology, and psychology, meaning “the tendency of an organism to maintain internal stability, or the tendency of a group of organisms, such as social insects like bees or ants, to act cooperatively.” Homeostasis is composed of the Greek combining form homoio- “like, similar, resembling” (from the adjective hómoios ) and stásis, a verbal noun meaning “standing, standing still, position, political opinion or party,” (from the verb histánai “to stand, to make stand, set up.”)
Greek has many compounds formed with homoio-, especially technical terms in rhetoric ( homoitéleutos “having similar endings or codas in phrases or verses"), biology ( homoiótropos “of animals, displaying similar behavior"), and physics ( homoiotachḗs “moving with equal velocity”).
Hómoios is a derivative of the adjective homós “the same, one and the same,” from Proto-Indo-European somós, source of Germanic samaz, which becomes Old Norse samr, adopted into English as same. Sanskrit has the adjective samá- “the same, similar”; Slavic (Polish) has sam “the same.”
Stásis forms many compound nouns in Greek, such as stasíarchos “(political or factional) party leader,” xenóstasis “inn for strangers,” and anástasis “standing up, removal, expulsion,” also meaning “resurrection” once each in Aeschylus’s Eumenides and in the New Testament's Epistle to the Hebrews. Anástasis forms the Greek proper names Anastásios (masculine) and Anastasía (in Late Latin Anastasius and Anastasia ).

OTHER WORDS FROM homeostasis

ho·me·o·stat·ic [hoh-mee-uh-stat-ik], /ˌhoʊ mi əˈstæt ɪk/, adjectiveho·me·o·stat·i·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is homeostasis?

Homeostasis is the tendency of an organism or body to maintain internal stability.

The most well-known example of homeostasis is body temperature. The human body wants to stay at a steady temperature (on average, 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). If you get too hot or cold, your body will react in order to return itself to its preferred temperature.

If you are getting too hot, for example, your nervous system will send signals to the brain. The brain wants these signals to stop so it will react by causing the body to sweat or increasing blood circulation to the skin. It will do this until the body temperature returns to an acceptable level and the signals stop. This is referred to as a negative (as in opposite) feedback response system.

Homeostasis is a trend or preference of a system, like your body’s desire to stay at a steady temperature. The body doesn’t have to be told or forced to perform homeostasis. It does it automatically. Almost always, a failure of the body to maintain homeostasis will lead to death.

Why is homeostasis important?

The first records of the term homeostasis come from around 1925. It combines the stem homeo, meaning “similar,” and the word stasis, meaning “equilibrium.” The term homeostasis was coined by physiologist Walter Bradford Cannon, who noticed that animal bodies changed their internal processes in reaction to stress. Cannon also coined the term fight or flight in reference to these kinds of bodily reactions.

Homeostasis is not one single bodily process but a collection of processes to maintain a certain condition in the body. The human body constantly works to ensure many different conditions, such as oxygen levels, the amount of water in the body, and hormone levels, are at a healthy state. While it usually does this without you having to think about it, sometimes your behavior will change to aid in homeostasis, such as when you drink more water when it’s hot outside or put on warm clothing when it is cold out.

Humans are not the only animals whose bodies maintain homeostasis. In fact, even plants have to maintain homeostasis or risk dying. Plant cells work to ensure a healthy balance of performing photosynthesis without losing too much water and becoming dehydrated.

Did you know … ?

Many diseases are, in actuality, homeostasis not occurring like it is supposed to. For example, diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot (or incorrectly attempts to) maintain proper blood sugar levels. Because their bodies cannot do it naturally, people with diabetes have to work to maintain proper glucose levels to avoid serious health problems.

What are real-life examples of homeostasis?

Students usually learn about homeostasis in science class.

What other words are related to homeostasis?

Quiz yourself!

True or False?

The body failing to maintain homeostasis is a very serious, often life-threatening, situation.

How to use homeostasis in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for homeostasis



/ (ˌhəʊmɪəʊˈsteɪsɪs) /

the maintenance of metabolic equilibrium within an animal by a tendency to compensate for disrupting changes
the maintenance of equilibrium within a social group, person, etc

Derived forms of homeostasis

homeostatic or homoeostatic (ˌhəʊmɪəʊˈstætɪk), 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

Scientific definitions for homeostasis

[ hō′mē-ō-stāsĭs ]

The tendency of an organism or cell to regulate its internal conditions, such as the chemical composition of its body fluids, so as to maintain health and functioning, regardless of outside conditions. The organism or cell maintains homeostasis by monitoring its internal conditions and responding appropriately when these conditions deviate from their optimal state. The maintenance of a steady body temperature in warm-blooded animals is an example of homeostasis. In human beings, the homeostatic regulation of body temperature involves such mechanisms as sweating when the internal temperature becomes excessive and shivering to produce heat, as well as the generation of heat through metabolic processes when the internal temperature falls too low.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for homeostasis

[ (hoh-mee-oh-stay-sis) ]

The tendency of the body to seek and maintain a condition of balance or equilibrium within its internal environment, even when faced with external changes. A simple example of homeostasis is the body's ability to maintain an internal temperature around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (see also Fahrenheit), whatever the temperature outside.

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.