Definition of pataphysics in English:


plural noun

  • usually treated as singular The branch of philosophy that deals with an imaginary realm additional to metaphysics.

    • ‘So, the only respectable branch of physics in which the Bogdanov's operate appears to be, umm… pataphysics.’
    • ‘Yet it will delight anyone who craves some of Jarry's ole pataphysics.’
    • ‘Those who feel that obvious displays of intellectual prowess involving references to archaeology, pataphysics and other arcana have no place on a rock record may have trouble with this sort of thing.’
    • ‘There were talks on physics, metaphysics, and pataphysics; readings of Jarry, Shakespeare, Beckett, Strindberg, Queneau, and Schwitters; performances of modern music and scientific film.’


1940s: from Greek ta epi ta metaphusika, literally ‘the (works) imposed on the Metaphysics’. The concept was introduced by Alfred Jarry (1873–1907), French writer of the Absurd.