Definition of system in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈsistəm/


1A set of connected things or parts forming a complex whole, in particular.
1.1A set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network: the state railroad system fluid is pushed through a system of pipes or channels
More example sentences
  • The proportion of other gasses is always kept constant on the earth by the help of interconnected complex systems.
  • He wanted to see the two systems actually mesh together and communicate with each other so it was possible to step off a tram and onto a train at the same platform.
  • The complex of field systems and large stone walls extend from the north western slopes of Mount Brandon to within the boundaries of Dingle.
structure, organization, arrangement, complex, network
informal setup
1.2 Physiology A set of organs in the body with a common structure or function: the digestive system
More example sentences
  • Decreased kidney function is associated with complications in virtually all organ systems.
  • This in turn enhances the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells of the body helping the body systems to function to the best of their ability.
  • If you have had part of your stomach or other organs removed, this will affect your digestive system.
1.3The human or animal body as a whole: you need to get the cholesterol out of your system
More example sentences
  • No prisoner wants to be caught with drugs in their system, so they choose to shoot up rather than smoke a joint.
1.4 Computing A group of related hardware units or programs or both, especially when dedicated to a single application.
Example sentences
  • One way to get these economies is to roll up the smaller software, systems, and hardware into the larger system.
  • Even when I try to get my head out of the clouds and try to focus on our Linux systems, I think application launchers.
  • The software can look out over various servers and storage systems and puts all of the hardware in a single panel for the users.
1.5 Geology (In chronostratigraphy) a major range of strata that corresponds to a period in time, subdivided into series.
Example sentences
  • Sand-rich turbidites from two Palaeocene submarine fan systems have very different heavy mineral stratigraphic styles.
  • Only the most robust biominerals survive into the fossil record, and the range of isotopic systems available to study is limited.
  • Interbedded clastics also record the build-out of deltaic systems from the subaerial hinterland around the basin margins.
1.6 Astronomy A group of celestial objects connected by their mutual attractive forces, especially moving in orbits about a center: the system of bright stars known as the Gould Belt
More example sentences
  • Astronomers hope to study the structure and evolution of the Universe, and to search for planetary systems around other suns.
  • The latest find is a system of three planets orbiting around a star previously thought to have only one.
  • It is a nebulae system, planets and stars bobbing in and out of blue, purple, and pink stardust.
1.7 short for crystal system.
2A set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized scheme or method: a multiparty system of government the public school system
More example sentences
  • The new system uses the same principles in effect all across the country.
  • Critics of this three-way scheme say the system will cause more problems than it solves.
  • The contents of this closet are organized according to a system I have yet to master.
method, methodology, technique, process, procedure, approach, practice;
means, way, mode, framework, modus operandi;
scheme, plan, policy, program, regimen, formula, routine
2.1Orderliness; method: there was no system at all in the company
More example sentences
  • We know that system is the best way forward for innovation in the field.
order, method, orderliness, systematization, planning, logic, routine
2.2A method of choosing one’s procedure in gambling.
Example sentences
  • Over the centuries, individuals have tried elaborate betting systems.
  • Betting systems, that is, the manipulation of money, cannot overcome the math of craps.
  • Gambling is a sea of systems floating shore to shore, like notes in bottles bobbing on the waves.
2.3A set of rules used in measurement or classification: the metric system
More example sentences
  • Country economic analysis and risk measurement systems should be closely regulated by managers.
  • Germany used a different system of measurement of international units.
  • We are also thinking of refining this game by introducing rules and a scoring system.
2.4 (the system) The prevailing political or social order, especially when regarded as oppressive and intransigent: don’t try bucking the system
More example sentences
  • Politicians who operate the system and are bounded in its frame should change, too.
  • We always have the politician or the system or just good old luck to blame it all on.
  • Our politicians have plundered the system for so long, corruption is so much part of life.
the establishment, the administration, the authorities, the powers that be;
bureaucracy, officialdom;
the status quo
3 Music A set of staves in a musical score joined by a brace.


get something out of one's system

informal Get rid of a preoccupation or anxiety: she let her get the crying out of her system
More example sentences
  • Maybe drawing it will get it out of your system.
  • I think, at 16, it is good to get it out of your system.
  • The bottom line is that your classmates don't care how you get it out of your system, just as long as you do it when they're not forced to listen to you.



Pronunciation: /ˈsistəmləs/
Example sentences
  • I know a large number of people who prefer to game systemless.
  • If you play this game systemless you've missed the boat.
  • Sometimes I'm tempted to go with a systemless source book, because everyone likes different types of rules.


Early 17th century: from French système or late Latin systema, from Greek sustēma, from sun- 'with' + histanai 'set up'.

  • This word comes to us via Latin from Greek sustēma, of which the base elements are sun- ‘with’ and histanai ‘set up’.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sys·tem

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.