Definition of ontology in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /änˈtäləjē/


1The branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being.
Example sentences
  • For such reasons as these Heidegger believes that ontology and phenomenology coincide.
  • Heidegger interprets such judgements as belonging to general metaphysics or ontology.
  • This question, we have seen, is also a central concern in Mead's ontology and epistemology.
2A set of concepts and categories in a subject area or domain that shows their properties and the relations between them: what’s new about our ontology is that it is created automatically from large datasets we’re using ontologies to capture and analyze some of the knowledge in our department
More example sentences
  • He's in charge of maintaining an ontology composed of 400,000 concepts and which uses Description Logic based definitions.
  • In this case the batch process operates on the full ontology, that is 400,000 concepts and 1.5 million relationships between them.
  • The application allows the users to inspect the ontology, make queries to it and propose changes.



Pronunciation: /-jist/
Example sentences
  • ‘Ontology’ is a grandiose name for a part of metaphysics: an ontologist attempts to determine what sort of things really exist, what are the fundamental entities of which the world consists.
  • We boast of our outlaw status as outsiders or marginals, as guerilla ontologists; why then, do we continually beg for authenticity and validation (either as ‘reward’ or as ‘punishment’) from authority?
  • Many ‘ontologists’ are truly re-inventing the wheel - an already-developed thesaurus for their subject matter may be hiding in the stacks of their local university library.


Early 18th century: from modern Latin ontologia, from Greek ōn, ont- 'being' + -logy.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: on·tol·o·gy

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.