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[met-uh-fiz-iks] /ˌmɛt əˈfɪz ɪks/
noun, (used with a singular verb)
the branch of philosophy that treats of first principles, includes ontology and cosmology, and is intimately connected with epistemology.
philosophy, especially in its more abstruse branches.
the underlying theoretical principles of a subject or field of inquiry.
(initial capital letter, italics) a treatise (4th century b.c.) by Aristotle, dealing with first principles, the relation of universals to particulars, and the teleological doctrine of causation.
Origin of metaphysics
1560-70; < Medieval Latin metaphysica < Medieval Greek () metaphysiká (neuter plural), Greek tà metà tà physiká the (works) after the Physics; with reference to the arrangement of Aristotle's writings


[met-uh-fiz-ik] /ˌmɛt əˈfɪz ɪk/
1350-1400; Middle English metaphisik < Medieval Latin metaphysica (neuter plural); see metaphysics
Related forms
unmetaphysic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for metaphysics
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The publication of this work marked an epoch in metaphysics.

    Ancient and Modern Celebrated Freethinkers Charles Bradlaugh, A. Collins, and J. Watts
  • That went so far as to cast suspicion on all metaphysics, and somewhat on theology.

  • They are men who are in love with metaphysics, or glory in a mathematical existence.

    Beauty Alexander Walker
  • But he has hitherto been unable to make the transition from mathematics to metaphysics.

    Theaetetus Plato
  • On the unfavourable contrast between mathematics and metaphysics.

  • First, the foundation of his argument is laid in the metaphysics of Aristotle.

    Charmides Plato
  • Ah, me, I know that the practical Miss West would dub my metaphysics a depressing and unhealthful exercise of my wits.

British Dictionary definitions for metaphysics


noun (functioning as sing)
the branch of philosophy that deals with first principles, esp of being and knowing
the philosophical study of the nature of reality, concerned with such questions as the existence of God, the external world, etc
(popularly) abstract or subtle discussion or reasoning
Derived Forms
metaphysician (ˌmɛtəfɪˈzɪʃən), metaphysicist (ˌmɛtəˈfɪzɪsɪst) noun
Word Origin
C16: from Medieval Latin, from Greek ta meta ta phusika the things after the physics, from the arrangement of the subjects treated in the works of Aristotle


the system of first principles and assumptions underlying an enquiry or philosophical theory
an obsolete word for metaphysician
(rare) another word for metaphysical
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 metaphysics

1560s, plural of Middle English metaphisik, methaphesik (late 14c.), "branch of speculation which deals with the first causes of things," from Medieval Latin metaphysica, neuter plural of Medieval Greek (ta) metaphysika, from Greek ta meta ta physika "the (works) after the Physics," title of the 13 treatises which traditionally were arranged after those on physics and natural sciences in Aristotle's writings. The name was given c.70 B.C.E. by Andronicus of Rhodes, and was a reference to the customary ordering of the books, but it was misinterpreted by Latin writers as meaning "the science of what is beyond the physical." See meta- + physics. The word originally was used in English in the singular; plural form predominated after 17c., but singular made a comeback late 19c. in certain usages under German influence.



late 14c., from Medieval Latin metaphysica (see metaphysics). The usual form of metaphysics until 16c.; somewhat revived 19c. under German influence.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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metaphysics in Culture

metaphysics definition

The field in philosophy that studies ultimate questions, such as whether every event has a cause and what things are genuinely real.

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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