[ met-uh-fiz-iks ]
See synonyms for metaphysics on
noun(used with a singular verb)
  1. the branch of philosophy that treats of first principles, includes ontology and cosmology, and is intimately connected with epistemology.

  2. philosophy, especially in its more abstruse branches.

  1. the underlying theoretical principles of a subject or field of inquiry.

  2. (initial capital letter, italics) a treatise (4th century b.c.) by Aristotle, dealing with first principles, the relation of universals to particulars, and the teleological doctrine of causation.

Origin of metaphysics

First recorded in 1560–70; from Medieval Latin metaphysica, from Medieval Greek (tà) metaphysiká (neuter plural), Greek tà metà tà physiká “the (works) after the Physics”; with reference to the arrangement of Aristotle's writings

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

How to use metaphysics in a sentence

  • The author has avoided technicalities, and has also resisted the temptation of the psychologist to indulge in metaphysics.

    Man And His Ancestor | Charles Morris
  • metaphysics and natural philosophy expressed the genius of Europe; he substricts the religion of Asia as the base.

  • With Aristotle, ethics formed only one branch of attention; his main inquiries were in reference to physics and metaphysics.

  • All that I had ever read in psychology and metaphysics came back to me.

    My New Curate | P.A. Sheehan
  • Besides these spoils, the poet of to-day revels in the results of later metaphysics.

    The Arena | Various

British Dictionary definitions for metaphysics


/ (ˌmɛtəˈfɪzɪks) /

noun(functioning as singular)
  1. the branch of philosophy that deals with first principles, esp of being and knowing

  2. the philosophical study of the nature of reality, concerned with such questions as the existence of God, the external world, etc

  1. (popularly) abstract or subtle discussion or reasoning

Origin of metaphysics

C16: from Medieval Latin, from Greek ta meta ta phusika the things after the physics, from the arrangement of the subjects treated in the works of Aristotle

Derived forms of metaphysics

  • metaphysician (ˌmɛtəfɪˈzɪʃən) or metaphysicist (ˌmɛtəˈfɪzɪsɪst), noun

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

Cultural definitions for metaphysics


The field in philosophy that studies ultimate questions, such as whether every event has a cause and what things are genuinely real.

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.