Definition of tabula rasa in English:

tabula rasa

nounPlural tabulae rasae

  • 1An absence of preconceived ideas or predetermined goals; a clean slate.

    ‘the team did not have complete freedom and a tabula rasa from which to work’
    1. 1.1 The human mind, especially at birth, viewed as having no innate ideas.
      • ‘If not exactly a tabula rasa, I am comparatively ignorant of current scientific knowledge and epistemology.’
      • ‘Brains do not evolve and then function as a sort of tabula rasa, molded and formed by culture.’
      • ‘This objection notwithstanding, we seem to be somewhat intellectually path dependent, and not at all tabula rasa, at least not by the age of consent.’
      • ‘He is immediately answered by the female spectator who is obviously up-to-date with recent critical developments and the Lockean notion of tabula rasa.’
      • ‘They are all products of the false belief that we are born with empty minds, a tabula rasa.’
      • ‘Man is born a tabula rasa; he must learn and learn how to choose the ends that are proper for him, and the means which he must adopt to attain them.’
      • ‘The mind was a tabula rasa, asserted the British writer John Locke, a clean slate awaiting the imprint of sensory data.’
      • ‘In Marshall's novel the description of Avey's mind and body as a tabula rasa upon which a new history can be written clearly perpetuates the idea of the body as a site of unconstructed materiality upon which culture inscribes itself.’
      • ‘It was then, in the middle of the nineteenth century, that John Locke's tabula rasa, by then available for almost two centuries and well known to some, found a wide audience to instruct in the fundamentals of childhood.’
      • ‘But generally there is no contact prior the aggressive display… the victim is a tabula rasa.’
      • ‘The theory of tabula rasa that the mind is a blank tablet at birth, upon which all our experiences are then inscribed to make the story of our lives has been the subject of debate for centuries.’
      • ‘They championed the opposing view that the developing human brain is a tabula rasa.’
      • ‘Locke believed that we are born without innate knowledge, with an empty mind, a tabula rasa.’
      • ‘So, for Locke, the human mind was a tabula rasa, a blank slate upon which experience records itself as human knowledge.’
      • ‘If we presume that really young children are somehow just a tabula rasa, a blank slate that we can write on and form in our own image, then we're greatly misguided.’
      • ‘While we are all born with a certain genetic make-up, ultimately we are a society of learners, meaning that we are born tabula rasa and develop habits through imitation.’
      • ‘Between the utopian thinkers of the early 19th century and the modernist believers in the tabula rasa came an interlude dominated by those who thought piecemeal solutions possible.’


Latin, literally ‘scraped tablet’, denoting a tablet with the writing erased.


tabula rasa

/ˌtabjʊlə ˈrɑːzə/