[ fi-los-uh-fee ]
See synonyms for: philosophyphilosophies on

noun,plural phi·los·o·phies.
  1. the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct.

  2. any of the three branches, namely natural philosophy, moral philosophy, and metaphysical philosophy, that are accepted as composing this study.

  1. a particular system of thought based on such study or investigation:the philosophy of Spinoza.

  2. the critical study of the basic principles and concepts of a particular branch of knowledge, especially with a view to improving or reconstituting them: the philosophy of science.

  3. a system of principles for guidance in practical affairs.

  4. an attitude of rationality, patience, composure, and calm in the presence of troubles or annoyances.

Origin of philosophy

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English philosophie, from Latin philosophia, from Greek philosophía; see philo-, -sophy

Other words from philosophy

  • an·ti·phi·los·o·phy, adjective, noun, plural an·ti·phi·los·o·phies.
  • non·phi·los·o·phy, noun, plural non·phi·los·o·phies.

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

How to use philosophy in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for philosophy


/ (fɪˈlɒsəfɪ) /

nounplural -phies
  1. the academic discipline concerned with making explicit the nature and significance of ordinary and scientific beliefs and investigating the intelligibility of concepts by means of rational argument concerning their presuppositions, implications, and interrelationships; in particular, the rational investigation of the nature and structure of reality (metaphysics), the resources and limits of knowledge (epistemology), the principles and import of moral judgment (ethics), and the relationship between language and reality (semantics)

  2. the particular doctrines relating to these issues of some specific individual or school: the philosophy of Descartes

  1. the critical study of the basic principles and concepts of a discipline: the philosophy of law

  2. archaic, or literary the investigation of natural phenomena, esp alchemy, astrology, and astronomy

  3. any system of belief, values, or tenets

  4. a personal outlook or viewpoint

  5. serenity of temper

Origin of philosophy

C13: from Old French filosofie, from Latin philosophia, from Greek, from philosophos lover of wisdom

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 philosophy


A study that attempts to discover the fundamental principles of the sciences, the arts, and the world that the sciences and arts deal with; the word philosophy is from the Greek for “love of wisdom.” Philosophy has many branches that explore principles of specific areas, such as knowledge (epistemology), reasoning (logic), being in general (metaphysics), beauty (aesthetics), and human conduct (ethics).

Different approaches to philosophy are also called philosophies. (See also epicureanism, existentialism, idealism, materialism, nihilism, pragmatism, stoicism, and utilitarianism.)

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.