Definition of nominalism
- the doctrine that universals or general ideas are mere names without any corresponding reality, and that only particular objects exist; properties, numbers, and sets are thought of as merely features of the way of considering the things that exist. Important in medieval scholastic thought, nominalism is associated particularly with William of Occam. Often contrasted with realism (sense 3).
mid 19th century: from French nominalisme, from nominal 'relating to names' (see nominal)