[ nom-uh-nl-iz-uh m ]
/ ˈnɒm ə nlˌɪz əm /


(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
Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for nominalism

British Dictionary definitions for nominalism


/ (ˈnɒmɪnəˌlɪzəm) /


the philosophical theory that the variety of objects to which a single general word, such as dog, applies have nothing in common but the nameCompare conceptualism, realism
Derived Formsnominalist, noun, adjectivenominalistic, 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

Word Origin and History for nominalism



1820, "view that treats abstract concepts as names only, not realities," from French nominalisme (1752), from nominal, from Latin nominalis (see nominal). Related: Nominalist.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper