Skinner box

noun Psychology.

a box used in experiments in animal learning, especially in operant conditioning, equipped with a mechanism that automatically gives the animal food or other reward or permits escape, as by opening a door.


Discover The Influence Of Portuguese On English Via This Quiz!
We’ve gathered some interesting words donated to English from Portuguese … as well as some that just don’t translate at all. Do you know what they mean?
Question 1 of 11
Which of the following bird names traces its immediate origin to Portuguese?

Origin of Skinner box

First recorded in 1940–45; named after B. F. Skinner Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for skinner box

Skinner box


a device for studying the learning behaviour of animals, esp rats and pigeons, consisting of a box in which the animal can move a lever to obtain a reward, such as a food pellet, or a punishment, such as an electric shock

Word Origin for Skinner box

C20: named after B. F. Skinner
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