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From Latin mechanismus, from Greek μηχανή (mēkhanḗ, machine)


  • IPA(key): /ˈmɛkənɪzm/
  • (file)


mechanism (countable and uncountable, plural mechanisms)

  1. (within a machine or machinery) Any mechanical means for the conversion or control of motion, or the transmission or control of power.
  2. Any combination of cams, gears, links, belts, chains and logical mechanical elements.
    • 2012 March 1, Henry Petroski, “Opening Doors”, in American Scientist[1], volume 100, number 2, page 112-3:
      A doorknob of whatever roundish shape is effectively a continuum of levers, with the axis of the latching mechanism—known as the spindle—being the fulcrum about which the turning takes place.
  3. A group of objects or parts that interact together.
    political machine
  4. A mental, physical, or chemical process.
  5. (philosophy) The theory that all natural phenomena can be explained by physical causes.

Derived terms[edit]