Definition of system in US English:



  • 1A set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network.

    ‘the state railroad system’
    ‘fluid is pushed through a system of pipes or channels’
    • ‘No one has ever accomplished this for complex health system improvements.’
    • ‘The city's power system collapsed even before the monsoon.’
    • ‘He wanted to see the two systems actually mesh together and communicate with each other so it was possible to step off a tram and onto a train at the same platform.’
    • ‘No true entertainment system is complete without a great light show to go with it.’
    • ‘The goal was to build a modern transport system that could connect the whole country.’
    • ‘So far, concrete and metal reinforcements and fire protection systems have been completed.’
    • ‘Rather than wait the ten days for the results to come back we chlorinated all the water systems completely.’
    • ‘The proportion of other gasses is always kept constant on the earth by the help of interconnected complex systems.’
    • ‘The ship's vital systems are now operational and are running normally.’
    • ‘City engineers proposed installing a more efficient drainage system in the affected areas.’
    • ‘But at the most fundamental level I think they should try reforming the mental health system in this country.’
    • ‘The move is part of the Government's plans to overhaul the criminal justice system.’
    • ‘Plans to reform family law, to reform the criminal justice system and to outlaw internet grooming are expected.’
    • ‘The simplest water supply and storage systems can be extraordinarily complex.’
    • ‘So, the message here is to plant trees with deeper root systems, preferably complete with tap roots.’
    • ‘In fact, for some lakes these sewage systems have already been completely diverted.’
    • ‘However, often no one person has a sense of what is going on in the system as a whole.’
    • ‘To make matters worse, the management of water systems was completely taken over by the government.’
    • ‘They maximise the utility of the system as a whole by solving a predetermined problem.’
    • ‘The complex of field systems and large stone walls extend from the north western slopes of Mount Brandon to within the boundaries of Dingle.’
    structure, organization, order, arrangement, complex, apparatus, network
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    1. 1.1Physiology A set of organs in the body with a common structure or function.
      ‘the digestive system’
      • ‘If the indigestion continues, your doctor may want to send you for further investigation of your digestive system.’
      • ‘This in turn enhances the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells of the body helping the body systems to function to the best of their ability.’
      • ‘It is related to the excretory system, reproductive organs and the genital regions.’
      • ‘Decreased kidney function is associated with complications in virtually all organ systems.’
      • ‘If you have had part of your stomach or other organs removed, this will affect your digestive system.’
    2. 1.2 The human or animal body as a whole.
      ‘you need to get the cholesterol out of your system’
      • ‘No prisoner wants to be caught with drugs in their system, so they choose to shoot up rather than smoke a joint.’
    3. 1.3Computing A group of related hardware units or programs or both, especially when dedicated to a single application.
      • ‘One way to get these economies is to roll up the smaller software, systems, and hardware into the larger system.’
      • ‘As usually, the worm starts and ends with the unpatched available system.’
      • ‘If the primary backup system is a disk array, then there is no protection from the virus.’
      • ‘Even when I try to get my head out of the clouds and try to focus on our Linux systems, I think application launchers.’
      • ‘The software can look out over various servers and storage systems and puts all of the hardware in a single panel for the users.’
    4. 1.4Geology (in chronostratigraphy) a major range of strata that corresponds to a period in time, subdivided into series.
      • ‘Only the most robust biominerals survive into the fossil record, and the range of isotopic systems available to study is limited.’
      • ‘Sand-rich turbidites from two Palaeocene submarine fan systems have very different heavy mineral stratigraphic styles.’
      • ‘Previous studies of coal sequence stratigraphy have concentrated on coals associated with siliciclastic depositional systems.’
      • ‘Interbedded clastics also record the build-out of deltaic systems from the subaerial hinterland around the basin margins.’
      • ‘Recently, it has been proposed as the base of the Upper Ordovician in a formal tripartite subdivision of the system.’
    5. 1.5Astronomy A group of celestial objects connected by their mutual attractive forces, especially moving in orbits about a center.
      ‘the system of bright stars known as the Gould Belt’
      • ‘The principle can also be extended to clusters of galaxies, and systems of even larger size than this.’
      • ‘It is a nebulae system, planets and stars bobbing in and out of blue, purple, and pink stardust.’
      • ‘Six of these discoveries are of planetary systems with two or more planets.’
      • ‘Astronomers hope to study the structure and evolution of the Universe, and to search for planetary systems around other suns.’
      • ‘The latest find is a system of three planets orbiting around a star previously thought to have only one.’
    6. 1.6
      short for crystal system
  • 2A set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized scheme or method.

    ‘a multiparty system of government’
    ‘the public school system’
    • ‘It has an electoral system which in principle should be the envy of the world.’
    • ‘And they are fretting about the security of their email and diary management system.’
    • ‘Farms with similar animal handling systems used them in different ways.’
    • ‘How do we integrate personal recordkeeping into our normal focus on organizational systems?’
    • ‘We need a system that distributes wealth according to need rather than greed.’
    • ‘The contents of this closet are organized according to a system I have yet to master.’
    • ‘The quota management system is designed to ensure sustainability.’
    • ‘Equity has traditionally been a system which matches established principle to the demands of social change.’
    • ‘Common law and civil law systems recognize the principle of compensation for losses caused by faults for which others are legally responsible.’
    • ‘The new animation system will enable us to add some really amazing elements to the game.’
    • ‘Of course, this seems like a pretty complex system for what we used to call roll call.’
    • ‘Pakistani players are currently paid per match according to a grading system based on seniority.’
    • ‘But in alternative and complementary medicine other systems of communication are recognized.’
    • ‘A four-letter alphabet might seem a rather limited system for writing complex messages.’
    • ‘Twenty years ago, Indonesia created an integrated forest management system based on principles of conservation biology.’
    • ‘They are supportive of a multi-party system, and are against capital punishment.’
    • ‘The new system uses the same principles in effect all across the country.’
    • ‘Critics of this three-way scheme say the system will cause more problems than it solves.’
    • ‘In the wake of demanding democracy in the Middle East, our nation's value system requires it.’
    • ‘Such a slate is required under the country's electoral system of proportional representation.’
    method, methodology, technique, process, procedure, approach, practice, line, line of action, line of attack, attack, means, way, manner, mode, framework, modus operandi
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    1. 2.1 A set of rules used in measurement or classification.
      ‘the metric system’
      • ‘Country economic analysis and risk measurement systems should be closely regulated by managers.’
      • ‘Because a classification system cannot be founded on this basis, dispute will reign.’
      • ‘She says that overall the classification system for cinema and videos is a very good one.’
      • ‘Our various classification systems adopt a certain framework within which to categorize and view something.’
      • ‘Each paper was given a score with the scoring system relevant to its study design.’
      • ‘The metric system is a system of measurement of decimal units based on the meter.’
      • ‘The wonderful thing about both of these classifications systems is how unladen they are with value-judgements.’
      • ‘Several systems for the measurement of electric conductivity have been routinely used for geophysical studies in soils.’
      • ‘However, it also has one other distinct advantage over some older systems of measurements and that is scalability.’
      • ‘He aims to create a measurement system for acoustic response from a bone under stress.’
      • ‘They don't understand the scoring systems or the implications of their choices in scoring systems.’
      • ‘Stem segments were harvested, prepared and attached to the measurement system as described above.’
      • ‘Efforts to refine observational scoring systems and expand computerized scoring systems are in progress.’
      • ‘The Read codes improved on earlier classification and coding systems in several important respects.’
      • ‘There seem to be two different systems of scoring the cards.’
      • ‘In other words, these numbers are the same, but in different measurement systems.’
      • ‘Germany used a different system of measurement of international units.’
      • ‘Standardise laboratories' measurement systems around the world so that advances in one lab are usable in others.’
      • ‘We are also thinking of refining this game by introducing rules and a scoring system.’
      • ‘Financial institutions are notoriously secretive about their credit scoring systems.’
      law, laws, body of law, rules, regulations, constitution, charter, canon, jurisprudence
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    2. 2.2 Orderliness; method.
      ‘there was no system at all in the company’
      • ‘We know that system is the best way forward for innovation in the field.’
      methodicalness, orderliness, systematization, planning, logic, routine
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    3. 2.3 A method of choosing one's procedure in gambling.
      • ‘Sometimes I receive mailings from individuals who are selling systems to beat Keno.’
      • ‘Over the centuries, individuals have tried elaborate betting systems.’
      • ‘What is the impact of this early breakthrough on the current state of the art in Blackjack card counting systems?’
      • ‘Gambling is a sea of systems floating shore to shore, like notes in bottles bobbing on the waves.’
      • ‘Betting systems, that is, the manipulation of money, cannot overcome the math of craps.’
  • 3the systemThe prevailing political or social order, especially when regarded as oppressive and intransigent.

    ‘don't try bucking the system’
    • ‘Few had the courage to buck the system in case they incurred the well-known wrath of the tsar.’
    • ‘Black and white people have to unite against the system that oppresses the working class.’
    • ‘In a time when we have never been more oppressed by the system, doesn't she still have some resonance?’
    • ‘If his plays had a continuing theme, it was a celebration of the little man bucking the system.’
    • ‘For the potential for resistance not to be dissipated a political alternative to the system is crucial.’
    • ‘Good terrorists are those whose actions are justified by the oppressiveness of the system they oppose.’
    • ‘But beware of those who claim that we must destroy the system in order to save it.’
    • ‘This book provides a brilliant resource for any critic of the system, socialist or otherwise.’
    • ‘Politicians who operate the system and are bounded in its frame should change, too.’
    • ‘He still remembers what it was like for his friends who'd bucked the system.’
    • ‘The report comes to the conclusion that people's trust in the system has failed and it is becoming a cause of social unrest.’
    • ‘Worthier men than he have failed, or, more likely, have refused to buck the system.’
    • ‘Our politicians have plundered the system for so long, corruption is so much part of life.’
    • ‘A couple of months ago, Thom was being hailed for bucking the system.’
    • ‘In fact, we need people working simultaneously within and without the system in order to change it.’
    • ‘We always have the politician or the system or just good old luck to blame it all on.’
    • ‘No doubt many editors and journalists are aware of this but are too afraid of bucking the system.’
    the establishment, the authorities, the powers that be, the ruling class, the regime, bureaucracy, officialdom
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  • 4Music
    A set of staves in a musical score joined by a brace.


  • get something out of one's system

    • informal Get rid of a preoccupation or anxiety.

      ‘she let her get the crying out of her system’
      • ‘I think, at 16, it is good to get it out of your system.’
      • ‘I seem in the mood to read overlong pretentious epics - I really should go for a rummage in an airport bookshop or something and get it out of my system.’
      • ‘The bottom line is that your classmates don't care how you get it out of your system, just as long as you do it when they're not forced to listen to you.’
      • ‘We make it very easy for them to get it out of their system.’
      • ‘The stand-up work helped me to get it out of my system.’
      • ‘I couldn't deal with this anger, and I had to get it out of my system.’
      • ‘I do this for a couple of weeks every year, get it out of my system, then go back to being a drone.’
      • ‘They have their ceremonies, and then do the wailing and the screaming, everyone says sorry, and they get it out of their system.’
      • ‘Maybe drawing it will get it out of your system.’
      • ‘Obviously we can't put things right, but we have the chance to get it out of our system as soon as possible.’


Early 17th century: from French système or late Latin systema, from Greek sustēma, from sun- ‘with’ + histanai ‘set up’.