[ ri-duhk-shuh-niz-uhm ]

  1. the theory that every complex phenomenon, especially in biology or psychology, can be explained by analyzing the simplest, most basic physical mechanisms that are in operation during the phenomenon.

  2. the practice of simplifying a complex idea, issue, condition, or the like, especially to the point of minimizing, obscuring, or distorting it.

Origin of reductionism

First recorded in 1940–45; reduction + -ism

Other words from reductionism

  • re·duc·tion·ist, noun, adjective

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

How to use reductionism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for reductionism


/ (rɪˈdʌkʃəˌnɪzəm) /

  1. the analysis of complex things, data, etc, into less complex constituents

  2. often derogatory any theory or method that holds that a complex idea, system, etc, can be completely understood in terms of its simpler parts or components

Derived forms of reductionism

  • reductionist, noun, adjective
  • reductionistic, 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