[ nom-uh-nl-iz-uhm ]

  1. (in medieval philosophy) the doctrine that general or abstract words do not stand for objectively existing entities and that universals are no more than names assigned to them.: Compare conceptualism, realism (def. 5a).

Origin of nominalism

From the French word nominalisme, dating back to 1830–40. See nominal, -ism

Other words from nominalism

  • nom·i·nal·ist, noun
  • nom·i·nal·is·tic, adjective
  • nom·i·nal·is·ti·cal·ly, adverb
  • non·nom·i·nal·is·tic, adjective
  • un·nom·i·nal·is·tic, adjective

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

How to use nominalism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for nominalism


/ (ˈnɒmɪnəˌlɪzəm) /

  1. the philosophical theory that the variety of objects to which a single general word, such as dog, applies have nothing in common but the name: Compare conceptualism, realism

Derived forms of nominalism

  • nominalist, noun, adjective
  • nominalistic, 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