Definition of holism in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈhōlˌizəm/


chiefly Philosophy
1The theory that parts of a whole are in intimate interconnection, such that they cannot exist independently of the whole, or cannot be understood without reference to the whole, which is thus regarded as greater than the sum of its parts. Holism is often applied to mental states, language, and ecology. The opposite of atomism.
Example sentences
  • In contrast, qualitative methods seek to represent holism and to provide contextual knowledge of the phenomenon being studied.
  • Synthesis and holism is much more scientifically subtle than analysis and reductionism.
  • The final principle is one of holism, which draws together the technical, organizational, and cultural aspects of technology and aims at a synthesis of science and religion.
1.1 Medicine The treating of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the physical symptoms of a disease.
Example sentences
  • We report the findings of a national survey of the views of Scotland's general practitioners on holism in primary care.
  • Doctors and patients need evidence about complementary treatments, but randomised controlled trials need to be carefully designed to take holism into account and avoid invalid results
  • This article will explore the concept of holism, and demonstrate how it can be incorporated into health care settings today.



Pronunciation: /ˈhōləst/
adjective& noun
Example sentences
  • If you are a holist by nature and are following a course that has serialist characteristics, where specific topics are looked at in detail before moving on to the next, you need to make a special effort to understand where the direction of the course is moving as a whole.
  • The holist theory appears to be more accurate here because it permits a representation of a ratio of two wholes, which, though paradoxical, clearly exists


1920s: from holo- 'whole' + -ism; coined by J. C. Smuts to designate the tendency in nature to produce organized “wholes” (bodies or organisms) from the ordered grouping of units.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ho·lism

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