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[sahy-ber-net-iks] /ˌsaɪ bərˈnɛt ɪks/
noun, (used with a singular verb)
the study of human control functions and of mechanical and electronic systems designed to replace them, involving the application of statistical mechanics to communication engineering.
Origin of cybernetics
< Greek kybernḗt(ēs) helmsman, steersman (kybernē-, variant stem of kybernân to steer + -tēs agent suffix) + -ics; term introduced by Norbert Wiener in 1948
Related forms
cybernetic, cybernetical, adjective
cybernetically, adverb
cyberneticist, cybernetician
[sahy-ber-ni-tish-uh n] /ˌsaɪ bər nɪˈtɪʃ ən/ (Show IPA),
noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cybernetics
Historical Examples
  • Dr. Auerbach was playing around with a chemical approach to cybernetics.

    Sense from Thought Divide Mark Irvin Clifton
  • cybernetics gained its monopoly by cutting costs of production.

    Joy Ride Mark Meadows
  • He got interested in neurology from the physics angle toward the end of his life, and contributed a lot to cybernetics.

    Sentiment, Inc. Poul William Anderson
  • During the indoctrination period you will do a very simple routine job in coordination with the cybernetics machines.

    The Victor Bryce Walton
  • A cybernetics engineer and machine tender, he was down to ten hours a week of work.

    The Junkmakers Albert R. Teichner
  • cybernetics is a combined study of machines and the human nervous system.

    The Caves of Fear John Blaine
  • Her console's so simple anyone with a basic knowledge of computers and cybernetics could figure her out.

    Where I Wasn't Going Walt Richmond
  • It is not generally known that all the periodical publications for the world were put out by cybernetics.

    Joy Ride Mark Meadows
British Dictionary definitions for cybernetics


(functioning as sing) the branch of science concerned with control systems in electronic and mechanical devices and the extent to which useful comparisons can be made between man-made and biological systems See also feedback (sense 1)
Derived Forms
cybernetic, adjective
cyberneticist, noun
Word Origin
C20: from Greek kubernētēs steersman, from kubernan to steer, control
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cybernetics

coined 1948 by U.S. mathematician Norbert Wiener (1894-1964) from Greek kybernetes "steersman" (metaphorically "guide, governor") + -ics; perhaps based on 1830s French cybernétique "the art of governing."

The future offers very little hope for those who expect that our new mechanical slaves will offer us a world in which we may rest from thinking. Help us they may, but at the cost of supreme demands upon our honesty and our intelligence. [Norbert Weiner, "God and Golem, Inc.," 1964]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cybernetics in Medicine

cybernetics cy·ber·net·ics (sī'bər-nět'ĭks)
The theoretical study of communication and control processes in biological, mechanical, and electronic systems, especially the comparison of these processes in biological and artificial systems.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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cybernetics in Science
The scientific study of communication and control processes in biological, mechanical, and electronic systems. Research in cybernetics often involves the comparison of these processes in biological and artificial systems.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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cybernetics in Culture
cybernetics [(seye-buhr-net-iks)]

The general study of control and communication systems in living organisms and machines, especially the mathematical analysis of the flow of information. The term cybernetics was coined by Norbert Wiener, an American mathematician of the twentieth century.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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cybernetics in Technology
/si:`b*-net'iks/ The study of control and communication in living and man-made systems.
The term was first proposed by Norbert Wiener in the book referenced below. Originally, cybernetics drew upon electrical engineering, mathematics, biology, neurophysiology, anthropology, and psychology to study and describe actions, feedback, and response in systems of all kinds. It aims to understand the similarities and differences in internal workings of organic and machine processes and, by formulating abstract concepts common to all systems, to understand their behaviour.
Modern "second-order cybernetics" places emphasis on how the process of constructing models of the systems is influenced by those very systems, hence an elegant definition - "applied epistemology".
Related recent developments (often referred to as sciences of complexity) that are distinguished as separate disciplines are artificial intelligence, neural networks, systems theory, and chaos theory, but the boundaries between those and cybernetics proper are not precise.
See also robot.
The Cybernetics Society ( of the UK.
American Society for Cybernetics (
IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society (
International project "Principia Cybernetica" (
Usenet newsgroup: (
["Cybernetics, or control and communication in the animal and the machine", N. Wiener, New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1948]
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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