[ mek-uh-niz-uhm ]
See synonyms for: mechanismmechanisms on

  1. an assembly of moving parts performing a complete functional motion, often being part of a large machine; linkage.

  2. the agency or means by which an effect is produced or a purpose is accomplished.

  1. machinery or mechanical appliances in general.

  2. the structure or arrangement of parts of a machine or similar device, or of anything analogous.

  3. the mechanical part of something; any mechanical device: the mechanism of a clock.

  4. routine methods or procedures; mechanics: the mechanism of government.

  5. mechanical execution, as in painting or music; technique.

  6. the theory that everything in the universe is produced by matter in motion; materialism.: Compare dynamism (def. 1), vitalism (def. 1).

  7. Philosophy.

    • the view that all natural processes are explicable in terms of classical mechanics.

    • the view that all biological processes may be described in physicochemical terms.

  8. Psychoanalysis. the habitual operation and interaction of psychological forces within an individual that assist in interpreting or dealing with the physical or psychological environment.

Origin of mechanism

First recorded in 1655–65; from New Latin mēchanismus; Late Latin mēchanisma “contrivance,” from Greek mēchan(ḗ) machine + New Latin -ismus, Late Latin -isma -ism

Other words from mechanism

  • mech·a·nis·mic, adjective
  • an·ti·mech·an·ism, noun

Words Nearby mechanism Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use mechanism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for mechanism


/ (ˈmɛkəˌnɪzəm) /

  1. a system or structure of moving parts that performs some function, esp in a machine

  2. something resembling a machine in the arrangement and working of its parts: the mechanism of the ear

  1. any form of mechanical device or any part of such a device

  2. a process or technique, esp of execution: the mechanism of novel writing

  3. philosophy

    • the doctrine that human action can be explained in purely physical terms, whether mechanical or biological

    • the explanation of phenomena in causal rather than teleological or essentialist terms

    • the view that the task of science is to seek such explanations

    • strict determinism: Compare dynamism, vitalism

  4. psychoanal

    • the ways in which psychological forces interact and operate

    • a structure having an influence on the behaviour of a person, such as a defence mechanism

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