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[fiz-iks] /ˈfɪz ɪks/
noun, (used with a singular verb)
the science that deals with matter, energy, motion, and force.
Origin of physics
1580-90; see physic, -ics


[fiz-ik] /ˈfɪz ɪk/
a medicine that purges; cathartic; laxative.
any medicine; a drug or medicament.
Archaic. the medical art or profession.
Obsolete, natural science.
verb (used with object), physicked, physicking.
to treat with or act upon as a physic or medicine.
to work upon as a medicine does; relieve or cure.
1250-1300; (noun) Middle English fisyk(e), phisik(e) (< Old French fisique) < Latin physica natural science (Medieval Latin: medical science) < Greek physikḗ science of nature, noun use of feminine adj.: pertaining to nature (akin to phŷlon tribe, phylon); (v.) Middle English, derivative of the noun
Can be confused
physic, physique. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for physics
  • And inquiries into nature have the best result, when they begin with physics and end in mathematics.
  • His strength was in theoretical physics, but he was being forced to sit in a laboratory making thin films of beryllium.
  • The power of a tsunami comes from straightforward physics.
  • When the economy was about stuff, economics resembled physics.
  • The mystery of time and the possibilities of traveling through it raise some of the thorniest questions in physics.
  • Unlike the physics that control the weather, the physics that control earthquakes are still poorly understood.
  • Humans are not atomic particles obeying only the laws of physics.
  • The particular trick in this case is a little bit of aircraft physics.
  • To do so, they have gone back to their high-school physics lessons.
  • She has a doctorate in physics and is a grandmaster of political chess, always many moves ahead of her rivals.
British Dictionary definitions for physics


noun (functioning as sing)
the branch of science concerned with the properties of matter and energy and the relationships between them. It is based on mathematics and traditionally includes mechanics, optics, electricity and magnetism, acoustics, and heat. Modern physics, based on quantum theory, includes atomic, nuclear, particle, and solid-state studies. It can also embrace applied fields such as geophysics and meteorology
physical properties of behaviour: the physics of the electron
(archaic) natural science or natural philosophy
Word Origin
C16: from Latin physica, translation of Greek ta phusika natural things, from phusis nature


(rare) a medicine or drug, esp a cathartic or purge
(archaic) the art or skill of healing
an archaic term for physics (sense 1)
verb -ics, -icking, -icked
(transitive) (archaic) to treat (a patient) with medicine
Derived Forms
physicky, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French fisique, via Latin, from Greek phusikē, from phusis nature
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 physics

1580s, "natural science," from physic in sense of "natural science." Also see -ics. Based on Latin physica (neuter plural), from Greek ta physika, literally "the natural things," name of Aristotle's treatise on nature. Specific sense of "science treating of properties of matter and energy" is from 1715.



c.1300, fysike, "art of healing, medical science," also "natural science" (c.1300), from Old French fisike "natural science, art of healing" (12c.) and directly from Latin physica (fem. singular of physicus) "study of nature," from Greek physike (episteme) "(knowledge) of nature," from fem. of physikos "pertaining to nature," from physis "nature," from phyein "to bring forth, produce, make to grow" (cf. phyton "growth, plant," phyle "tribe, race," phyma "a growth, tumor") from PIE root *bheue- "to be exist, grow" (see be). Spelling with ph- attested from late 14c. (see ph). As a noun, "medicine that acts as a laxative," 1610s. The verb meaning "to dose with medicine" is attested from late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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physics in Medicine

physics phys·ics (fĭz'ĭks)

  1. Abbr. phys. The science of matter and energy and of interactions between the two, grouped in traditional fields such as acoustics, optics, mechanics, thermodynamics, and electromagnetism, as well as in modern extensions including atomic and nuclear physics, cryogenics, solid-state physics, particle physics, and plasma physics.

  2. Physical properties, interactions, processes, or laws.

physic phys·ic (fĭz'ĭk)
A medicine or drug, especially a cathartic.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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physics in Science
  1. The scientific study of matter, energy, space, and time, and of the relations between them.

  2. The behavior of a given physical system, especially as understood by a physical theory.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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physics in Culture

physics definition

The scientific study of matter and motion. (See mechanics, optics, quantum mechanics, relativity, and thermodynamics.)

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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