Definition of mechanism in English:


Line breaks: mech|an¦ism
Pronunciation: /ˈmɛk(ə)nɪz(ə)m


  • 2A natural or established process by which something takes place or is brought about: the immune system’s mechanism for detecting pathogens
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    • It is also of significance in new drug development based on the mechanism of Chinese medicine.
    • It pulverises those delicate social mechanisms that control our baser motives.
    • Rather, they encourage the body's own healing mechanisms to restore its natural equilibrium.
  • 3 [mass noun] Philosophy The doctrine that all natural phenomena, including life and thought, can be explained with reference to mechanical or chemical processes.
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    • Much of this controversy stemmed from the argument of mechanism versus vitalism.
    • For Bergson, it is because the scientific pursuit is based on the principle of mechanism.
    • Yet mechanism and postmodernism are linked by a common distrust of human subjectivity.


mid 17th century: from modern Latin mechanismus, from Greek mēkhanē (see machine).

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