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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

Words of the day — nomothetic

Good morning, Netizens...

January 29, 2013

Words of the Day

  • nomothetic
  • audio pronunciation
  • \nah-muh-THET-ik\


: relating to, involving, or dealing with abstract, general, or universal statements or laws

"Even the authors that emphasize the existence of cross-cultural differences ... acknowledge that a nomothetic characterization of a country cannot apply equally to every member of its population." — From an article by Jaime Bonache et al. in the Journal of Business Research, December 2012

"Moreover, there is the often-incorrect assumption that crimes and offenders are sufficiently similar to be lumped together for aggregate study. In such cases the resulting nomothetic knowledge is not just diluted, it is inaccurate and ultimately misleading." — From Brent E. Turvey's 2011 book Criminal Profiling: An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence Analysis, Fourth Edition


"Nomothetic" is often contrasted with "idiographic," a word meaning "relating to or dealing with something concrete, individual, or unique." Where "idiographic" points to the specific and unique, "nomothetic" points to the general and consistent. The immediate Greek parent of "nomothetic" is a word meaning "of legislation"; the word has its roots in "nomos," meaning "law," and "-thetēs," meaning "one who establishes." "Nomos" has played a part in the histories of words as varied as "metronome," "autonomous," and "Deuteronomy." The English contributions of "-thetēs" are meager ("nomothetic" is the only one in our Collegiate dictionary), but "-thetēs" itself comes from "tithenai," meaning "to put," and "tithenai" is the ancestor of many common words ending in "thesis"—"hypothesis," "parenthesis," "prosthesis," "synthesis," and "thesis" itself—as well as "theme," "epithet," and "apothecary."


Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.