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an assembly of moving parts performing a complete functional motion, often being part of a large machine; linkage.
the agency or means by which an effect is produced or a purpose is accomplished.
machinery or mechanical appliances in general.
the structure or arrangement of parts of a machine or similar device, or of anything analogous.
the mechanical part of something; any mechanical device:
the mechanism of a clock.
routine methods or procedures; mechanics:
the mechanism of government.
mechanical execution, as in painting or music; technique.
the theory that everything in the universe is produced by matter in motion; materialism.
Compare (def 1), (def 1).

the view that all natural processes are explicable in terms of .
the view that all biological processes may be described in physicochemical terms.

Psychoanalysis. the habitual operation and interaction of psychological forces within an individual that assist in interpreting or dealing with the physical or psychological environment.
Contemporary Examples

Therefore, the mechanism by which it can influence brain function is constrained.
Whitney Houston’s Death: Xanax and Alcohol, Lethal Duo Casey Schwartz February 12, 2012

He should also establish a mechanism in the prime minister’s office to ensure that his decision is implemented.
Why Bibi Humiliated Biden Martin Indyk March 10, 2010

I’ll take this as a pushback against Bloomberg’s mechanism – a half-limitation on portion sizes – as compared to the basic idea.
Bloomberg’s Soda Ban Might Not Have Worked Justin Green April 14, 2013

The mechanism of birth control is less important than the theological commitment to all pregnancies.
Is Forced Religious Belief Coming to an Employer Near You? Jamelle Bouie November 26, 2013

But like social science research, we don’t have much of a mechanism to catch them.
Searching for Fraud Megan McArdle October 8, 2012

Historical Examples

Like the hands of a clock turned by mechanism, Paul came faithfully up to time.
The Marriage Contract Honore de Balzac

It is in his attempt to explain the mechanism that we believe Weissman fails.
The Dramatic Values in Plautus Wilton Wallace Blancke

She invented a mystery of crime surrounded by everyday circumstances, yet avoiding the “detective novel” mechanism.
Library Of The World’s Best Literature, Ancient And Modern, Vol. 5 Various

He taught us to believe there is a God from the mechanism of the world.
A Dish Of Orts George MacDonald

It was a part of the mechanism’s internal, hydraulic system.
Astounding Stories, June, 1931 Various

a system or structure of moving parts that performs some function, esp in a machine
something resembling a machine in the arrangement and working of its parts: the mechanism of the ear
any form of mechanical device or any part of such a device
a process or technique, esp of execution: the mechanism of novel writing

the doctrine that human action can be explained in purely physical terms, whether mechanical or biological
the explanation of phenomena in causal rather than teleological or essentialist terms
the view that the task of science is to seek such explanations
strict determinism Compare dynamism, vitalism


the ways in which psychological forces interact and operate
a structure having an influence on the behaviour of a person, such as a defence mechanism


1660s, from Modern Latin mechanismus, from Greek mekhane “machine, instrument” (see machine (n.)).

mechanism mech·a·nism (měk’ə-nĭz’əm)

A machine or mechanical appliance.

The arrangement of connected parts in a machine.

A system of parts that operate or interact like those of a machine.

An instrument or a process by which something is done or comes into being.

The involuntary and consistent response of an organism to a given stimulus.

A usually unconscious mental and emotional pattern that dominates behavior in a given situation or environment.

The sequence of steps in a chemical reaction.

The philosophical doctrine that all natural phenomena are explicable by material causes and mechanical principles.


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