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From rhiz- +‎ -ome. As philosophical metaphor, used by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari.


  • (General American) IPA(key): /ˈɹaɪzoʊm/
  • (file)


rhizome (plural rhizomes)

  1. (botany) A horizontal, underground stem of some plants that sends out roots and shoots (scions) from its nodes.
    Synonyms: race, rootstalk
    • 1868, George Bacon Wood, A Treatise on Therapeutics, and Pharmacology, Or Materia Medica, Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Company, page 432:
      All these species are climbing, briery plants, having long slender roots, which proceed in all directions from a common rootstalk or rhizome.
  2. (philosophy, critical theory) A so-called “image of thought” that apprehends multiplicities.
    • 1989, Ronald Bogue, Deleuze and Guattari, Psychology Press, →ISBN, page 107:
      The corpus of Kafka's writing, they argue, is ‘a rhizome, a burrow’ (K 7)—an uncentered and meandering growth like crab grass, a complex, aleatory network of pathways like a rabbit warren. A rhizome, as Deleuze and Guattari explain in Rhizome: an Introduction (1976), is the antithesis of a root-tree structure, or ‘arborescence’, the structural model which has dominated Western thought from Porphyrian trees, to Linnaean taxonomies, to Chomskyan sentence diagrams.
    • 2008, A. Hess, “Reconsidering the Rhizome”, in Amanda Spink, Michael Zimmer, editors, Web Search: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, Springer Science & Business Media, →ISBN, page 35:
      Critical theorists have often drawn from Deleuze and Guattari's notion of the rhizome when discussing the potential of the Internet. While the Internet may structurally appear as a rhizome, its day-to-day usage by millions via search engines precludes experiencing the random interconnectedness and potential democratizing function.

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rhizome m (plural rhizomes)

  1. (botany) rhizome

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