Definition of mechanism in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmekəˌnizəm/


1A system of parts working together in a machine; a piece of machinery: the gunner injured his arm in the turret mechanism
More example sentences
  • These two holes must be coordinated so the mechanism will properly fit together.
  • The slight hiss is, to my ears, about the same as the tape mechanism in my van - maybe even a bit less.
  • Our clock is a superb piece of engineering, and has a mechanism that is almost identical to Big Ben in London.
machine, piece of machinery, appliance, apparatus, device, instrument, contraption, gadget
informal gizmo
machinery, workings, works, movement, action, gears, components
2A natural or established process by which something takes place or is brought about: we have no mechanism for assessing the success of forwarded inquiries the mechanism by which genes build bodies
More example sentences
  • 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.
2.1A contrivance in the plot of a literary work: his Irma La Douce is a musical based on the farce mechanism
More example sentences
  • The internal struggles of the group are hopelessly dramatised, reading off like the plot mechanisms that they are.
3 Philosophy The doctrine that all natural phenomena, including life and thought, allow mechanical explanation by physics and chemistry.
Example sentences
  • 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).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: mech·an·ism

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