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

  • n. The act or process of individuating, especially the process by which social individuals become differentiated one from the other.
  • n. The condition of being individuated; individuality.
  • n. Philosophy The development of the individual from the general or universal.
  • n. Philosophy The distinction or determination of the individual within the general or universal.
  • n. In Jungian psychology, the gradual integration and unification of the self through the resolution of successive layers of psychological conflict.
  • n. Embryology Formation of distinct organs or structures through the interaction of adjacent tissues.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The process of individuating or individualizing.
  • n. The distinction of the individual from the general or universal.
  • n. The differentiation of tissues.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of individuating or state of being individuated; individualization.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In metaphysics, the determination or contraction of a general nature to an individual mode of existence; the development of the individual from the general.
  • n. Separate or individual existence or independence; that by which such individuality is developed and maintained.
  • n. In biology: A general term summarizing the conditions for the maintenance and perpetuation of an individual organism, when these conditions are considered collectively and in contrast with those which conduce to the generation of new beings.
  • n. A unifying principle or a cause of individuality.
  • n. The unification of two distinct types of organisms into an individual whole, such as the lichen-thallus.

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

  • n. discriminating the individual from the generic group or species
  • n. the quality of being individual


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • There are no body cells of any kind, and an important event has not occurred, which we call individuation where these cells have started down the path of becoming a human being.

    CNN Transcript Dec 4, 2001

  • She called this process separation-individuation, in which the term separation refers to the infant’s gradual disengagement from a fused state with the primary love object, and the term individuation signifies the development of the child’s unique characteristics Goldstein, 1995: 117-127.

    Object Relations Theory and Self Psychology in Social Work Practice

  • In The World as Will and Representation, Schopenhauer often refers to the principle of sufficient reason as the principle of individuation, thereby linking the idea of individuation with space and time, mainly, but also with rationality, necessity, systematicity and determinism.

    Arthur Schopenhauer

  • That flowering differentiation which is called individuation was begun in the affirmation of a denial -- the affirmation of the rights of the single over the many and the denial of the power of environment.

    "Emerson the Individualist"

  • The first of these principles, which we have before alluded to and described, is that of "individuation;" that principle by which an infant or child is induced to concentrate the powers of its mind upon a new object, and that to the exclusion for the time of every other, till it has become acquainted with it.

    A Practical Enquiry into the Philosophy of Education

  • Hence also dimensive quantity has of itself a kind of individuation, so that we can imagine several lines of the same species, differing in position, which is included in the notion of this quantity; for it belongs to dimension for it to be "quantity having position" (Aristotle, Categor. iv), and therefore dimensive quantity can be the subject of the other accidents, rather than the other way about.

    Summa Theologica, Part III (Tertia Pars) From the Complete American Edition

  • Most significant of all for the social problem of sex, is the overwhelming tendency to individuation which is making both men and women frankly question whether marriage and parenthood are worth while when they involve so much personal sacrifice.

    Taboo and Genetics A Study of the Biological, Sociological and Psychological Foundation of the Family

  • This fits with the concerns expressed in Yalom’s version of existential psychotherapy (Yalom, 1980, 439), where self-transcendence takes a on a meaning closer to Maslow’s self-actualization or Jung’s individuation, which is the F5 (individuation) task to be resolved.

    Individual Psychology versus Existential Psychology: A Typology Approach

  • Thus one may be inclined to abandon the word antagonism, and to say merely that there is a necessary inverse ratio between "individuation" and "genesis," to use the original Spencerian terms.

    Woman and Womanhood A Search for Principles

  • The propensity to codify sports, to standardize the weight and size of their implements, and to reduce them to what Spencer calls regimentation, is a outcrop of uniformitarianism that works against that individuation which is one of the chief advantages of free play.

    Youth: Its Education, Regimen, and Hygiene


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  • The opposite of "mass media." From Wikipedia: "The term Individuation has begun to be used within the media industries to denote new printing and online technologies that permit the mass customization of the contents of a newspaper, a magazine, a broadcast program, or a Web site so that the contents match each individual user's own unique mix of interests, unlike the Mass Media practice of producing the same contents for each and every reader, viewer, listener, or online user."

    November 13, 2008