[vahyt-l-iz-uh m]
  1. the doctrine that phenomena are only partly controlled by mechanical forces, and are in some measure self-determining.Compare dynamism(def 1), mechanism(def 8).
  2. Biology. a doctrine that ascribes the functions of a living organism to a vital principle distinct from chemical and physical forces.

Origin of vitalism

First recorded in 1815–25; vital + -ism
Related formsvi·tal·ist, noun, adjectivevi·tal·is·tic, adjectivevi·tal·is·ti·cal·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for vitalism

Historical Examples of vitalism

British Dictionary definitions for vitalism


  1. the philosophical doctrine that the phenomena of life cannot be explained in purely mechanical terms because there is something immaterial which distinguishes living from inanimate matterCompare dynamism, mechanism
Derived Formsvitalist, noun, adjectivevitalistic, 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