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

  • n. A machine or mechanical appliance.
  • n. The arrangement of connected parts in a machine.
  • n. A system of parts that operate or interact like those of a machine: the mechanism of the solar system.
  • n. An instrument or a process, physical or mental, by which something is done or comes into being: "The mechanism of oral learning is largely that of continuous repetition” ( T.G.E. Powell).
  • n. A habitual manner of acting to achieve an end.
  • n. Biology The involuntary and consistent response of an organism to a given stimulus.
  • n. Psychology A usually unconscious mental and emotional pattern that shapes behavior in a given situation or environment: a defense mechanism.
  • n. The sequence of steps in a chemical reaction.
  • n. Philosophy The doctrine that all natural phenomena are explicable by material causes and mechanical principles.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Within a machine or machinery; any mechanical means for the conversion or control of motion, or the transmission or control of power
  • n. Any combination of cams, gears, links, belts, chains and logical mechanical elements
  • n. A group of objects or parts that interact together. (as in Political machine)
  • n. A mental, physical, or chemical process.
  • n. A theory that all natural phenomena can be explained by physical causes.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The arrangement or relation of the parts of a machine; the parts of a machine, taken collectively; the arrangement or relation of the parts of anything as adapted to produce an effect
  • n. The series of causal relations that operate to produce an effect in any system.
  • n. Mechanical operation or action.
  • n. An ideal machine; a combination of movable bodies constituting a machine, but considered only with regard to relative movements.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The structure of a machine, engine, or other contrivance for controlling or utilizing natural forces; the arrangement and relation of parts, or the parts collectively, in any machine, tool, or other contrivance; means of mechanical action; machinery; hence, the structure of anything that is conceived to resemble a machine.
  • n. A mechanical contrivance or agency of any kind; in general, the apparatus, means, or mode by which particular effects are produced or purposes accomplished: as, the mechanism of a musical instrument (the apparatus by means of which the performer acts upon it); the mechanism of a play or of a poem; the mechanism of government.
  • n. Action according to the laws of mechanics; mechanical action.

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

  • n. (philosophy) the philosophical theory that all phenomena can be explained in terms of physical or biological causes
  • n. device consisting of a piece of machinery; has moving parts that perform some function
  • n. a natural object resembling a machine in structure or function
  • n. the atomic process that occurs during a chemical reaction
  • n. the technical aspects of doing something


New Latin mēchanismus, from Late Latin mēchanisma, from Greek mēkhanē, machine; see mechanic.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin mechanismus, from Greek μηχανή (mekhanē, "machine") (Wiktionary)



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