[ sis-tuhm ]
See synonyms for: systemsystems on

  1. an assemblage or combination of things or parts forming a complex or unitary whole: a mountain system; a railroad system.

  2. any assemblage or set of correlated members: a system of currency; a system of shorthand characters.

  1. an ordered and comprehensive assemblage of facts, principles, doctrines, or the like in a particular field of knowledge or thought: a system of philosophy.

  2. a coordinated body of methods or a scheme or plan of procedure; organizational scheme: a system of government.

  3. any formulated, regular, or special method or plan of procedure: a system of marking, numbering, or measuring; a winning system at bridge.

  4. due method or orderly manner of arrangement or procedure: There is no system in his work.

  5. the world or universe.

  6. Astronomy.

    • a number of heavenly bodies associated and acting together according to certain natural laws: the solar system.

    • a hypothesis or theory of the disposition and arrangements of the heavenly bodies by which their phenomena, motions, changes, etc., are explained: the Ptolemaic system; the Copernican system.

  7. Biology.

    • an assemblage of organs or related tissues concerned with the same function: the nervous system; the digestive system.

    • the entire human or animal body considered as a functioning unit: an ingredient toxic to the system.

  8. one's psychological makeup, especially with reference to desires or preoccupations: to get something out of one's system.

  9. a method or scheme of classification: the Linnean system of plants.

  10. Usually the system . the prevailing structure or organization of society, business, or politics or of society in general; establishment: to work within the system instead of trying to change it.

  11. Geology. a major division of rocks comprising sedimentary deposits and igneous masses formed during a single geologic period.

  12. Physical Chemistry. a combination of two or more phases, as a binary system, each of which consists of one or more substances, that is attaining or is in equilibrium.

  13. Computers. a working combination of hardware, software, and data communications devices.

  14. Checkers. either of the two groups of 16 playing squares on four alternate columns.

Origin of system

First recorded in 1610–20; from Late Latin systēma, from Greek sýstēma whole compounded of several parts, equivalent to sy- “”with, together” + stē- (variant stem of histánai “to cause to stand”; akin to Latin stāre “to stand” ) + -ma noun suffix denoting result of action; see sy-, stand

Other words for system

Other words from system

  • sys·tem·less, adjective
  • in·ter·sys·tem, adjective
  • su·per·sys·tem, noun

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

How to use system in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for system


/ (ˈsɪstəm) /

  1. a group or combination of interrelated, interdependent, or interacting elements forming a collective entity; a methodical or coordinated assemblage of parts, facts, concepts, etc: a system of currency; the Copernican system

  2. any scheme of classification or arrangement: a chronological system

  1. a network of communications, transportation, or distribution

  2. a method or complex of methods: he has a perfect system at roulette

  3. orderliness; an ordered manner

  4. the system (often capital) society seen as an environment exploiting, restricting, and repressing individuals

  5. an organism considered as a functioning entity

  6. any of various bodily parts or structures that are anatomically or physiologically related: the digestive system

  7. one's physiological or psychological constitution: get it out of your system

  8. any assembly of electronic, electrical, or mechanical components with interdependent functions, usually forming a self-contained unit: a brake system

  9. a group of celestial bodies that are associated as a result of natural laws, esp gravitational attraction: the solar system

  10. chem a sample of matter in which there are one or more substances in one or more phases: See also phase rule

  11. a point of view or doctrine used to interpret a branch of knowledge

  12. mineralogy one of a group of divisions into which crystals may be placed on the basis of the lengths and inclinations of their axes: Also called: crystal system

  13. geology a stratigraphical unit for the rock strata formed during a period of geological time. It can be subdivided into series

Origin of system

C17: from French système, from Late Latin systēma, from Greek sustēma, from syn- + histanai to cause to stand

Derived forms of system

  • systemless, 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

Cultural definitions for system


A group of bodily organs that have similar structures or work together to perform some function, such as the digestive system, nervous system, and respiratory system.

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.

Other Idioms and Phrases with system


see all systems go; out of one's system.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.