[ri-duhk-shuh-niz-uh m]


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.
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
Related formsre·duc·tion·ist, noun, adjectivere·duc·tion·is·tic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for reductionist

Contemporary Examples of reductionist

Historical Examples of reductionist

  • Literate language is a reductionist machine, which we use to look at the world from the perspective of our own experience.

British Dictionary definitions for reductionist



the analysis of complex things, data, etc, into less complex constituents
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 Formsreductionist, noun, adjectivereductionistic, 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 reductionist

1861 and after in various senses, from reduction + -ist. Philosophical sense, related to reductionism is from 1934.



1948, in philosophy, from reduction in specialized sense in philosophy (1914) + -ism. Related: Reductionist.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper