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philosophy definition


This page has 9 definitions of philosophy in English. Philosophy is a noun and verb. Examples of how to use philosophy in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .


Alternative forms


From Middle English philosophie, Old French philosophie, and their source, Latin philosophia, from Ancient Greek φιλοσοφία (philosophía), from φίλος (phílos, loving) + σοφία (sophía, wisdom). Synchronically, philo- +‎ -sophy. Displaced native Old English ūþwitegung.



philosophy (countable and uncountable, plural philosophies)

  1. (uncountable, originally) The love of wisdom.
  2. (uncountable) An academic discipline that seeks truth through reasoning rather than empiricism, often attempting to provide explanations relating to general concepts such as existence and rationality.
    Philosophy is often divided into five major branches: logic, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and aesthetics.
    • 1661, John Fell, The Life of the most learned, reverend and pious Dr. H. Hammond[1]:
      During the whole time of his abode in the university he generally spent thirteen hours of the day in study; by which assiduity besides an exact dispatch of the whole course of philosophy, he read over in a manner all classic authors that are extant []
  3. (countable) A comprehensive system of belief.
  4. (countable) A view or outlook regarding fundamental principles underlying some domain.
    a philosophy of government;   a philosophy of education
  5. (countable) A general principle (usually moral).
    • 2012, Francesca Valensise, From Building Fabric to City Form: Reconstruction in Calabria at end of Eighteenth Century[2], Gangemi Editore spa, →ISBN, page 8:
      As a matter of fact the Enlightment culture was based on a philosophy inspired to an ethical laicism whose aim was to create a better society based on principles such as solidarity, equality of rights and duties, and full freedom.
  6. (archaic) A broader branch of (non-applied) science.
  7. A calm and thoughtful demeanor; calmness of temper.
  8. (printing, dated) Synonym of small pica (especially in French printing).
    • 2010, Thomas Wharton, Salamander, Emblem Editions, →ISBN:
      Although I prefer small pica. Or as its[sic] sometimes known, philosophy.
      Small pica, or philosophy, she said. It sounds like the title of a novel. With a girl heroine.


Derived terms

Related terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.


philosophy (third-person singular simple present philosophies, present participle philosophying, simple past and past participle philosophied)

  1. (now rare) To philosophize.

See also


Further reading

  • "philosophy" in Raymond Williams, Keywords (revised), 1983, Fontana Press, page 235.