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[nach-er-uh-liz-uh m, nach-ruh-] /ˈnætʃ ər əˌlɪz əm, ˈnætʃ rə-/
  1. a manner or technique of treating subject matter that presents, through volume of detail, a deterministic view of human life and actions.
  2. a deterministic theory of writing in which it is held that a writer should adopt an objective view toward the material written about, be free of preconceived ideas as to form and content, and represent with clinical accuracy and frankness the details of life.
    Compare realism (def 4b).
  3. a representation of natural appearances or natural patterns of speech, manner, etc., in a work of fiction.
  4. the depiction of the physical environment, especially landscape or the rural environment.
(in a work of art) treatment of forms, colors, space, etc., as they appear or might appear in nature.
Compare idealism (def 4), realism (def 3a).
action arising from or based on natural instincts and desires alone.
  1. the view of the world that takes account only of natural elements and forces, excluding the supernatural or spiritual.
  2. the belief that all phenomena are covered by laws of science and that all teleological explanations are therefore without value.
  1. the doctrine that all religious truth is derived from a study of natural processes and not from revelation.
  2. the doctrine that natural religion is sufficient for salvation.
adherence or attachment to what is natural.
Origin of naturalism
1635-45; natural + -ism
Related forms
antinaturalism, noun
nonnaturalism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for naturalism
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Theistic determinism does make man a mere vessel, a tool: for naturalism he is an individuation of the Living All.

    Rationalism John Mackinnon Robertson
  • What he means by naturalism we shall proceed shortly to explain.

  • naturalism, perfect technique, and the remarkable bodily energy of the figures he depicted were the leading qualities of his work.

    A History of Spain Charles E. Chapman
  • The excess of sentimentalism had given rise to the other extreme of naturalism.

    Mary Wollstonecraft Elizabeth Robins Pennell
  • From the other side the validity of causation has been attacked in the interests of the naturalism of the mechanical sciences.

  • Even in subject, as Brunn remarks, this naturalism is apparent.

    History of Ancient Art Franz von Reber
British Dictionary definitions for naturalism


/ˈnætʃrəˌlɪzəm; -tʃərə-/
  1. a movement, esp in art and literature, advocating detailed realistic and factual description, esp that in 19th-century France in the writings of Zola, Flaubert, etc
  2. the characteristics or effects of this movement
a school of painting or sculpture characterized by the faithful imitation of appearances for their own sake
the belief that all religious truth is based not on revelation but rather on the study of natural causes and processes
  1. a scientific account of the world in terms of causes and natural forces that rejects all spiritual, supernatural, or teleological explanations
  2. the meta-ethical thesis that moral properties are reducible to natural ones, or that ethical judgments are derivable from nonethical ones Compare naturalistic fallacy, descriptivism
action or thought caused by natural desires and instincts
devotion to that which is natural
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 naturalism

1630s, "action based on natural instincts," from natural + -ism. In philosophy, as a view of the world and humanity's relationship to it, from 1750. As a tendency in art and literature, from 1850.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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naturalism in Culture

naturalism definition

A movement in literature and the arts, and an approach to philosophy. Literary and artistic naturalism aims at accuracy and objectivity and cultivates realistic and even sordid portrayals of people and their environment. Philosophical naturalism, which is often identified with materialism, holds that minds, spirits, and ideas are fundamentally material.

naturalism definition

In the visual arts, an attempt to depict the natural world as accurately and objectively as possible.

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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