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The Collaborative International Dictionary

homeostasis \homeostasis\ n. The ability and tendency of certain systems to maintain a relatively constant internal state in spite of changes in external conditions; this ability is achieved by the presence of feedback mechanisms which can adjust the state of the system to compensate for changes in the state caused by the external environment. It is exemplified in homeothermal biological systems, such as animals which maintain relatively constant blood temperature and composition in spite of variations in external temperature or the composition of the food ingested.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1926, from homeo- + Greek stasis "standing still" (see stasis). Related: Homeostatic.


n. 1 (context physiology English) The ability of a system or living organism to adjust its internal environment to maintain a state of dynamic constancy; such as the ability of warm-blooded animals to maintain a stable temperature. 2 Such a dynamic equilibrium or balance.


n. metabolic equilibrium actively maintained by several complex biological mechanisms that operate via the autonomic nervous system to offset disrupting changes


Homeostasis or homoeostasis is the property of a system in which a variable (for example, the concentration of a substance in solution, or its temperature) is actively regulated to remain very nearly constant. This regulation occurs inside a defined environment (mostly within a living organism's body). Examples of homeostasis include the regulation of the body temperature of an animal, the pH of its extracellular fluids, or the concentrations of sodium (Na) and calcium (Ca) ions or of glucose in the blood plasma, despite changes in the animal’s environment, or what it has eaten, or what it is doing (for example, resting or exercising). Each of these variables (for example, body temperature, the pH, or the Na, Ca and glucose concentrations) is controlled by a separate “homeostat” (or regulator), which, together, maintain life. Homeostats are energy-consuming physiological mechanisms.

The concept was described by French physiologist Claude Bernard in 1865 and the word was coined by Walter Bradford Cannon in 1926.

Although the term was originally used to refer to processes within living organisms, it is frequently applied to technological control systems such as thermostats. A homeostat has an absolute requirement for a sensor to detect changes in the controlled entity's value, as well as an effector mechanism that reverses any detected deviation from the desired value (or “ setpoint”) of the regulated entity. Since the correction of any error detected by the sensor is always in the opposite direction to the error, a homeostat relies on what is known as a negative feedback connection between the sensor and effector. The effector's corrective effects are monitored by the sensor, which turns the corrective measures off when setpoint conditions have been restored. Negative feedback systems are therefore referred to as "closed loop", or "negative feedback loops", to distinguish them from "open loop" systems where a stimulus (acting on a sensor) results in an, often, all-or-none response that is not subject to modification once it has been set in motion.

Usage examples of "homeostasis".

But autocatalysis and homeostasis enabled simple structures to interact and spin off more complex structures still, until living things emerged, which combined into ever more complicated entities.

They preserved food by drying, salting, or a kind of bacterially induced homeostasis.

Higher species of animals display homeostasis, bilateral symmetry, disexuality, and endoskeletal body structure, with increasing cephaliza­.

Higher species of animals display homeostasis, bilateral symmetry, disexuality, and endoskeletal body structure, with increasing cephalization in the more highly evolved species.

The captain wanted you in Engineering first, because we've installed a new environmental homeostasis system and it's still being tested.