Meaning of SYSTEM in English

sys ‧ tem S1 W1 /ˈsɪstəm, ˈsɪstɪm/ BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ system , ↑ systematization ; verb : ↑ systematize ; adverb : ↑ systematically ; adjective : ↑ systematic ]

[ Date: 1600-1700 ; Language: Late Latin ; Origin: systema , from Greek , from synistanai 'to combine' , from syn- ( ⇨ ↑ syn- ) + histanai 'to cause to stand' ]

1 . RELATED PARTS [countable] a group of related parts that work together as a whole for a particular purpose:

an alarm system

a well-designed heating system

the digestive system

the railway system

2 . METHOD [countable] an organized set of ideas, methods, or ways of working

system of/for doing something

We’ve got a good system for dealing with complaints from customers.

I don’t understand your filing system.

under a system

Under the present system, we do not have any flexibility.

3 . COMPUTERS [countable] a group of computers that are connected to each other:

The system has crashed (=stopped working) .

4 . sb’s system someone’s body – used when you are talking about its medical or physical condition:

All this overeating is not good for my system.

5 . all systems go used, sometimes humorously, to say that you are ready to do something or that something is ready to happen

6 . the system the official rules and powerful organizations that restrict what you can do:

You can’t beat the system.

7 . get something out of your system informal to do something that helps you get rid of unpleasant strong feelings:

I was furious, so I went for a run to get it out of my system.

8 . ORDER [uncountable] the use of sensible and organized methods:

We need a bit more system in the way we organize our files.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)


▪ a heating system (=in a building)

We’re waiting for the heating system to be repaired.

▪ an alarm/security system

A new alarm system has been installed.

▪ an air-conditioning system

The building hasn’t got an air-conditioning system.

▪ the rail/road system (=all the roads or railways in a country)

Traffic problems are made worse by the country’s inadequate road system.

▪ sb’s digestive/reproductive/nervous system (=in someone’s body)

These vitamins are essential for a healthy nervous system.

▪ sb’s immune system (=they system which keeps your body healthy)

Some drugs can damage the immune system.

■ verbs

▪ install a system (=put it into a building)

Our security system is simple to install.

▪ a system works

The air-conditioning system isn’t working.

▪ a system fails/breaks down

If your immune system breaks down, you will be vulnerable to infections.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)


▪ effective/efficient

It was a highly effective system of communication.

▪ inefficient

He described the tax system as inefficient and unfair.

▪ complex/complicated

The Australian health care system is extremely complex.

▪ an elaborate system

The proposal has to get through an elaborate system of committees.

▪ the current/existing system

The current system of taxation is unnecessarily complicated.

▪ the political/legal/educational etc system

The country is rightly proud of its legal system.

▪ the economic/banking system

There are fears that the whole banking system could collapse.

▪ the health care system

The West should be helping these countries to develop modern health care systems.

■ verbs

▪ develop a system (=create a new one)

The Environment Agency has developed a new national flood warning system.

▪ introduce a system (=start to use it)

The government has introduced a system of student loans.

▪ adopt a system (=decide to use it)

They decided to adopt the electoral system used in Britain.

▪ use/run/operate a system

They use a system of grades to evaluate each hospital’s performance.


We operate a booking system.

▪ a system operates/works (=exists and is used)

He tried to explain how the planning system operates.

▪ a system works (=is successful)

The public needs to see that the complaints system works.

▪ a system breaks down/fails

An alarm sounds a warning before the system breaks down.

▪ a system collapses (=fails completely)

The European Exchange Rate system collapsed in the 1970s.

▪ modernize/reform a system

We need to reform the electoral system.

■ phrases

▪ a system of government/education/justice etc

Why was Britain so slow to develop a national system of education?

• • •


▪ system an organized set of ideas, methods, actions etc that you use to do something:

the airport security system


the system for dealing with refugees

▪ process a series of actions that are done in order to achieve a particular result:

the process of teaching children to read


Repeat the same process, until all the sugar has dissolved.

▪ procedure the official or usually agreed way of doing something:

You must follow the normal complaints procedure.


Large companies have a standard procedure for informing new employees about conditions of work.

▪ formula a method or set of principles that you use to solve a problem or make sure that something is successful:

The team are hoping to use the same winning formula that they used last season.


There is no magic formula for success (=a method that is certain to succeed) .

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.