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

  • adj. Of or relating to lawmaking; legislative.
  • adj. Based on a system of law.
  • adj. Of or relating to the philosophy of law.
  • adj. Of or relating to the study or discovery of general scientific laws.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. defining laws

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Legislative; enacting laws.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Legislative; enacting laws.
  • Pertaining to a nomothete, or to the body of nomothetes.
  • Founded on a system of law or by a lawgiver; nomistic: as, nomothetic religions.
  • Noting a science which aims at the discovery of universals or general laws: opposed to idiographic.

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

  • adj. relating to or involving the search for abstract universal principles


Greek nomothetikos : nomos, law; see nem- in Indo-European roots + thetikos, thetic; see thetic.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek νομοθετικός. (Wiktionary)


  • First, there is a critique of the "nomothetic" quest -- the idea that the social sciences should discover social laws.

    A crisis in sociology?

  • I believe the distinction by Wilhelm Dilthey between "nomothetic" (= positing laws) and "idiographic" (= describing individuals) sciences, is still much more fruitful than other approaches that tend to blur the dividing line.

    Demarcation, Demarcation, ….

  • On the one hand, Wilson has thus strengthened the Soviet element within "post-Soviet transitions" lending support to those researchers emphasizing the continued relevance of the ideographic element in †"as opposed to nomothetic approaches to â€" the study of contemporary Russia, Ukraine, etc.

    Understanding the Orange Revolution: Ukraine's Democratization in the Russian Mirror

  • Unlike the “nomothetic” knowledge that natural science seeks, what matters in historical science is not a universal law-like causality, but an understanding of the particular way in which an individual ascribes values to certain events and institutions or takes a position towards the general cultural values of his/her time under a unique, never-to-be-repeated constellation of historical circumstances.


  • Most of the studies presented in this book are nomothetic.

    The Bass Handbook of Leadership

  • The nomothetic approach tries to draw inferences from a more limited exposure to a large number of cases.

    The Bass Handbook of Leadership

  • Qualitative research may be idiographic or nomothetic.

    The Bass Handbook of Leadership

  • Thus Windelband proposed that the natural sciences are nomothetic and the historical or cultural sciences ideographic.

    Wilhelm Dilthey

  • Dilthey rejects Windelband's distinction by showing that many natural sciences have ideographic elements and many human sciences such as linguistics and economics have nomothetic aims.

    Wilhelm Dilthey

  • It's also worth stating that one of the theoretical approaches associated with ethnographic research is an idiographic, rather than nomothetic, approach to data -- a concern with the particular, rather than the general.

    Anti Anti-Anecdotalism


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.