[ his-tuh-ree-sis ]

  1. the lag in response exhibited by a body in reacting to changes in the forces, especially magnetic forces, affecting it.: Compare magnetic hysteresis.

  2. the phenomenon exhibited by a system, often a ferromagnetic or imperfectly elastic material, in which the reaction of the system to changes is dependent upon its past reactions to change.

Origin of hysteresis

1795–1805; <Greek hystérēsis deficiency, state of being behind or late, hence inferior, equivalent to hysterē-, variant stem of hystereîn to come late, lag behind, verbal derivative of hýsteros coming behind + -sis-sis

Other words from hysteresis

  • hys·ter·et·ic [his-tuh-ret-ik], /ˌhɪs təˈrɛt ɪk/, hys·ter·e·si·al [his-tuh-ree-see-uhl], /ˌhɪs təˈri si əl/, adjective
  • hys·ter·et·i·cal·ly, adverb

Words Nearby hysteresis

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

How to use hysteresis in a sentence

  • We should expect too—and we find—that hysteresis is more prominent in weak gels than in strong.

    Animal Proteins | Hugh Garner Bennett

British Dictionary definitions for hysteresis


/ (ˌhɪstəˈriːsɪs) /

  1. physics the lag in a variable property of a system with respect to the effect producing it as this effect varies, esp the phenomenon in which the magnetic flux density of a ferromagnetic material lags behind the changing external magnetic field strength

Origin of hysteresis

C19: from Greek husterēsis coming late, from husteros coming after

Derived forms of hysteresis

  • hysteretic (ˌhɪstəˈrɛtɪk), adjective
  • hysteretically, 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

Scientific definitions for hysteresis


[ hĭs′tə-rēsĭs ]

  1. The dependence of the state of a system on the history of its state. For example, the magnetization of a material such as iron depends not only on the magnetic field it is exposed to but on previous exposures to magnetic fields. This “memory” of previous exposure to magnetism is the working principle in audio tape and hard disk devices. Deformations in the shape of substances that last after the deforming force has been removed, as well as phenomena such as supercooling, are examples of hysteresis.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.