from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A physical, biological, psychological, or symbolic configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that its properties cannot be derived from a simple summation of its parts.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A collection of physical, biological, psychological or symbolic entities that creates a unified concept, configuration or pattern which is greater than the sum of its parts (of a character, personality, or being)
  • n. shape, form

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that it cannot be described merely as a sum of its parts


German, shape, from Middle High German, from past participle of stellen, to place, from Old High German; see stel- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Borrowing from German Gestalt ("shape, figure, form"). The German term can also apply to a geometric or graphical shape, but that is not the case when this word is used in English. (Wiktionary)


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  • Although the link between low compliance and dementia has yet to be comprehensively shown, he says, "there is a gestalt that it's broadly true."
    New Scientist, 13 June 2009

    Here 'gestalt' seems to be used as something like "broad picture, rough consensus", a meaning new to me.

    June 15, 2009

  • As in the "Gestalt" in your brain, which is a series of over a hundred patterns which allow your brain to do things such as find pictures is clouds, or see a box in this: , versus just two brackets. These patterns are often fooled by Optical Illusions.

    April 30, 2009

  • in the sense of "to put in place"

    July 25, 2007