Definition of entelechy in US English:



  • 1The realization of potential.

    • ‘Leaving much of this material unattended to, I shall restrict myself to the themes that have occupied my attention in the previous sections, namely, entelechy, the transcendentals, especially beauty, and desire.’
    1. 1.1 The supposed vital principle that guides the development and functioning of an organism or other system or organization.
      ‘such self-organization required a special biological force—entelechy’
      count noun ‘an entelechy generating a work of art from within’
      • ‘Radionics is concerned with healing of the whole man, with the health pattern or entelechy of the individual.’
      • ‘It is Aristotle's idea of entelechy, applied not to biology but to our human community.’
      • ‘The true freedom possible in theology requires a significant degree of prior bondage; the substance of this discipline does not materialize simply out of our own entelechy.’
      • ‘His working definition is that psych is the ‘first entelechy of a natural organic body’.’
      • ‘The entelechy of a caterpillar is to grow into a butterfly.’
    2. 1.2 The soul.
      • ‘Each twin formed a unitary entelechy, a single living organism made of psyche and soma, still rotating in opposite directions to each other.’
      • ‘This is in keeping with the British emergentists' view of emergence as midway between ‘mechanistic’ reductionism and vitalism of a sort which posited entelechies, substances embodying life-governing principles.’


Late Middle English: via late Latin from Greek entelekheia (used by Aristotle), from en- ‘within’ + telos ‘end, perfection’ + ekhein ‘be in a certain state’.