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

  • n. A group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole.
  • n. A functionally related group of elements, especially:
  • n. The human body regarded as a functional physiological unit.
  • n. An organism as a whole, especially with regard to its vital processes or functions.
  • n. A group of physiologically or anatomically complementary organs or parts: the nervous system; the skeletal system.
  • n. A group of interacting mechanical or electrical components.
  • n. A network of structures and channels, as for communication, travel, or distribution.
  • n. A network of related computer software, hardware, and data transmission devices.
  • n. An organized set of interrelated ideas or principles.
  • n. A social, economic, or political organizational form.
  • n. A naturally occurring group of objects or phenomena: the solar system.
  • n. A set of objects or phenomena grouped together for classification or analysis.
  • n. A condition of harmonious, orderly interaction.
  • n. An organized and coordinated method; a procedure. See Synonyms at method.
  • n. The prevailing social order; the establishment. Used with the: You can't beat the system.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A collection of organized things; as in a solar system.
  • n. A way of organising or planning.
  • n. A whole composed of relationships among the members.
  • n. A set of staffs that indicate instruments or sounds that are to be played simultaneously.
  • n. A set of equations involving the same variables, which are to be solved simultaneously.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An assemblage of objects arranged in regular subordination, or after some distinct method, usually logical or scientific; a complete whole of objects related by some common law, principle, or end; a complete exhibition of essential principles or facts, arranged in a rational dependence or connection; a regular union of principles or parts forming one entire thing
  • n. Hence, the whole scheme of created things regarded as forming one complete plan of whole; the universe.
  • n. Regular method or order; formal arrangement; plan.
  • n. The collection of staves which form a full score. See Score, n.
  • n. An assemblage of parts or organs, either in animal or plant, essential to the performance of some particular function or functions which as a rule are of greater complexity than those manifested by a single organ; ; hence, the whole body as a functional unity.
  • n. One of the stellate or irregular clusters of intimately united zooids which are imbedded in, or scattered over, the surface of the common tissue of many compound ascidians.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Any combination or assemblage of things adjusted as a regular and connected whole; a number of things or parts so connected as to make one complex whole; things connected according to a scheme: as, a system of canals for irrigation; a system of pulleys; a system of railroads; a mountain system; hence, more specifically, a number of heavenly bodies connected together and acting on each other according to certain laws: as, the solar system; the system of Jupiter and his satellites.
  • n. A plan or scheme according to which ideas or things are connected into a whole; a regular union of principles or facts forming one entire whole; an assemblage of facts, or of principles and conclusions, scientifically arranged, or disposed according to certain mutual relations so as to form a complete whole; a connected view of all the truths or principles of some department of knowledge or action: as, a system of philosophy; a system of government; a system of education; a system of divinity; a system of botany or of chemistry; a system of railroading: often equivalent to method.
  • n. The scheme of all created things considered as one whole; the universe.
  • n. Regular method or order; plan: as, to have no system in one's business or study.
  • n. In astronomy, any hypothesis or theory of the disposition and arrangements of the heavenly bodies by which their phenomena, their motions, changes, etc., are explained: as, the Ptolemaic system; the Copernican system; a system of the universe, or of the world.
  • n. In the fine arts, a collection of the rules and principles upon which an artist works.
  • n. In Byzantine music, an interval conceived of as compounded of two lesser intervals, as an octave or a tetrachord.
  • n. In medieval and modern music, a series of tones arranged and classified for artistic use, like a mode or scale.
  • n. In modern musical notation, two or more staffs braced together for concerted music.
  • n. In ancient prosody, a group of two or more periods; by extension, a single period of more than two or three cola; a hypermetron.
  • n. In biology: An assemblage of parts or organs of the same or similar tissues.
  • n. Hence— In a wider sense, a concurrence of parts or organs in some function.
  • n. Hence— In the widest sense, the entire body as a physiological unity or anatomical whole: as, to take food into the system; to have one's system out of order.
  • n. In ascidiology, the cœnobium of those compound tunicates which have a common cloaca, as the Botryllidæ.
  • n. One of the larger divisions of the geological series: as, the Devonian system; the Silurian system.
  • n. In natural history: In the abstract, classification; any method of arranging, disposing, or setting forth animals and plants, or any series of these, in orderly sequence, as by classes, orders, families, genera, etc., with due coördination and relative subordination of the several groups; also, the principles of such classification; taxonomy: as, the morphological system; a physiological system.
  • n. In the concrete, any zoölogical or botanical classification; any actual arrangement which is devised for the purpose of classifying and naming objects of natural history; a formal scheme, schedule, or inventory of such objects, or a systematic treatise upon them: as, the Linnean or artificial system of plants; Cuvier's system of classification; the quinarian system.
  • n. See the qualifying words.
  • n. See the qualifying words.

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

  • n. the living body considered as made up of interdependent components forming a unified whole
  • n. a procedure or process for obtaining an objective
  • n. instrumentality that combines interrelated interacting artifacts designed to work as a coherent entity
  • n. a group of physiologically or anatomically related organs or parts
  • n. an ordered manner; orderliness by virtue of being methodical and well organized
  • n. a group of independent but interrelated elements comprising a unified whole
  • n. a complex of methods or rules governing behavior
  • n. (physical chemistry) a sample of matter in which substances in different phases are in equilibrium
  • n. an organized structure for arranging or classifying


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

Late Latin systēma, systēmat-, from Greek sustēma, from sunistanai, to combine : sun-, syn- + histanai, set up, establish; see stā- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From late Latin systēma, from Ancient Greek σύστημα (sustēma, "organised whole, body"), from σύν (syn, "with, together") + ἵστημι (histēmi, "I stand").


  • The net heat flow is still from the hot sun through the system to the cold of space, the problem is that this is a *different system* than the previous one with less GHG's.

    Rabett Run

  • I do understand the current system, and your point about FRB is valid _within the existing system_.

    Jeff Randall Aims, Fires And... Misses

  • As there is a railway system and a hotel system, so there is also a _pig system_, by which this place is marked out from any other.

    The Englishwoman in America

  • This is purely accidental, of course, and doesn't mean that the U.S. electoral system is any better mostly because it's essentially the *same system*, but Canada has "a lot of work to do" on the electoral system as well as on the things you point out.


  • Although it had European precedents, the system of interchangeable parts became known as “the American system” because it was most fully exploited in the United States and became the foundation of the mass production characteristic of American industry at a later date.

    c. Machines and Industrial Techniques

  • When establishing a system of records_at least 40 days before operating system*

    New Omb Circular A

  • And while its 'system of national education was realised only in its most imperfect fashion, its _system of religious instruction_ was carried into effect with results that would alone stamp the First Book of Discipline as the most important document in Scottish history' (Hume Brown).

    John Knox

  • Over this system lie beds which have yielded in succession Ordovician and Silurian fossils, forming altogether a compact division which has been distinguished locally as the _Muth system_.

    The Panjab, North-West Frontier Province, and Kashmir

  • [1] By "self-satisfaction" I mean satisfaction with the existing system _as a system_.

    What Is and What Might Be A Study of Education in General and Elementary Education in Particular

  • But, though we hope they will not succeed, can we feel fully confident that we shall escape the contagion, when we remember that this system is no other than the "_mixed system_," and when we bear in mind the untiring efforts which are made to develop and consolidate that system in Ireland in every branch of education, from the university, through the model-school, down to the humblest village-school?

    Public School Education


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