Definition of Occam's razor in English:

Occam's razor

(also Ockham's razor)


  • The principle (attributed to William of Occam) that in explaining a thing no more assumptions should be made than are necessary. The principle is often invoked to defend reductionism or nominalism.

    Compare with omitted unresolving XREF to "principle of parsimony" at parsimony
    • ‘He named it for the principle of Occam's razor, as though to demonstrate that out of many possibilities, the simplest is often the best.’
    • ‘By Occam's razor, all other more complicated mechanisms should be disregarded, even if they have a similar quality of fit.’
    • ‘This second theory, concerning Ader's relation to his own practice, fails the test of Occam's razor and of common sense.’
    • ‘Those of a logical bent might use Occam's razor to reject biorhythms in favor of this simpler explanation.’
    • ‘Applying Ockham's razor in these cases would complicate and balkanize, rather than simplify.’
    • ‘Applying Occam's razor, both the idea of reincarnation and the idea of an immortal soul which will go to heaven or hell are equally unnecessary.’
    • ‘Yet on this point it seems useful to apply Ockham's razor.’
    • ‘I have two problems with Occam's razor, or at least the way people think they are using it.’
    • ‘The Faithfulness Condition is thus a formal version of Ockham's razor.’
    • ‘This could be interpreted, using Occam's razor, that a three-state model is not necessary.’
    • ‘That was Occam's razor, a fundamental principle of scientific reasoning.’
    • ‘I don't believe there is a political Occam's razor.’
    • ‘By Occam's razor, we should avoid elaboration of more complex explanations if a simple one will do.’
    • ‘The next logical step would be to use Occam's razor and abandon the concept of custom.’
    • ‘Many strange things are possible if you accept the plenitude principle and reject Occam's razor.’
    • ‘This approach seems to apply Occam's razor to the principle itself, eliminating the word ‘assumptions.’’
    • ‘All the complicated middle elements in Montaigne's descriptions are eliminated through a kind of brutal Occam's razor.’
    • ‘Veblen's argument was so simple that it cut like Occam's razor.’
    • ‘In the first, Shelley argues that a supernatural creator is an unnecessary hypothesis, a violation of Occam's razor.’
    • ‘If you so much as allude to angels, they'll smoke you out before anyone can say Ockham's razor!’


Mid 19th century: from the name of William of Occam + razor, with reference to the ‘cutting away’ of unnecessary material.


Occam's razor