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.

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 Unabridged



1350–1400; Middle English metaphisik < Medieval Latin metaphysica (neuter plural); see metaphysics

unmetaphysic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
metaphysic (ˌmɛtəˈfɪzɪk)
1.  the system of first principles and assumptions underlying an enquiry or philosophical theory
2.  an obsolete word for metaphysician
3.  rare another word for metaphysical

metaphysics (ˌmɛtəˈfɪzɪks)
1.  the branch of philosophy that deals with first principles, esp of being and knowing
2.  the philosophical study of the nature of reality, concerned with such questions as the existence of God, the external world, etc
3.  See descriptive metaphysics
4.  (popularly) abstract or subtle discussion or reasoning
[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]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

late 14c., "branch of speculation which deals with the first causes of things," from M.L. metaphysica, neut. pl. of Medieval Gk. (ta) metaphysika, from Gk. 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 ref. to the customary ordering of the books, but it was misinterpreted by L. writers as meaning "the science of what is beyond the physical." Hence, metaphysical came to be used in the sense of "abstract, speculative" (e.g. by Johnson, who applied it to certain 17c. poets, notably Donne and Cowley, who used "witty conceits" and abstruse imagery). 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., the usual form of metaphysics until 16c.; somewhat revived 19c. under Ger. influence.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

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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Example sentences
They agree on physics but disagree on metaphysics.
But that's not an answer from the field of science–that's metaphysics.
He loved the age-old mysteries surrounding the nature of matter, time and space
  at the heart of cosmology and metaphysics.
Reality is a subject of metaphysics and properly belongs to philosophy.
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