[poz-i-tuh-viz-uh m]


the state or quality of being positive; definiteness; assurance.
a philosophical system founded by Auguste Comte, concerned with positive facts and phenomena, and excluding speculation upon ultimate causes or origins.

Origin of positivism

First recorded in 1850–55; positive + -ism
Related formspos·i·tiv·ist, adjective, nounpos·i·tiv·is·tic, adjectivepos·i·tiv·is·ti·cal·ly, adverbnon·pos·i·tiv·is·tic, adjectiveun·pos·i·tiv·is·tic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for positivistic

Historical Examples of positivistic

  • The result is what one may call the growth of naturalistic or positivistic feeling.


    William James

  • Large difficulties loom upon the horizon of this positivistic insistence upon history.

  • Thus the scientific conservatism of Newton has led to the positivistic and agnostic phase of naturalism.

    The Approach to Philosophy

    Ralph Barton Perry

  • The positivistic stream of thought was not more in favour of a real evolution than was the Romantic school.

  • It was to this imperfect and perishing world that matter of fact, positivistic science referred.

British Dictionary definitions for positivistic



a strong form of empiricism, esp as established in the philosophical system of Auguste Comte, that rejects metaphysics and theology as seeking knowledge beyond the scope of experience, and holds that experimental investigation and observation are the only sources of substantial knowledgeSee also logical positivism
Also called: legal positivism the jurisprudential doctrine that the legitimacy of a law depends on its being enacted in proper form, rather than on its contentCompare natural law (def. 3)
the quality of being definite, certain, etc
Derived Formspositivist, noun, adjectivepositivistic, adjectivepositivistically, adverb
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 positivistic



1847, the philosophy of Auguste Comte (1798-1857), who published "Philosophie positive" in 1830; see positive (adj.) in the "just the facts" sense + -ism. Related: Positivist; Positivistic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

positivistic in Culture


An approach to philosophy frequently found in the twentieth century. Positivists usually hold that all meaningful statements must be either logical inferences or sense descriptions, and they usually argue that the statements found in metaphysics, such as “Human beings are free” or “Human beings are not free,” are meaningless because they cannot possibly be verified by the senses.

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.