Pronunciation key

( ik-spērə-ment )



[ME.; OFr.; L. experimentum a trial, test < experiri to try; see EXPERIENCE].

  1. Test or trial.
    • An action performed to discover something unknown, or to demonstrate something that is a known truth or to test the validity of a hypothesis.
    • An action performed to know whether it will be effective such as, An experiment allowing employees to choose their break time.
  2. The process of conducting such tests; experimentation.

Experiment, GA
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Experiment, Georgia

An unincorporated village located in West Central Georgia, Spaulding County on the Central of the Georgia Railroad and U.S. highways 19 and 41; 2 miles NNW of Griffin. The village is the location of the Georgia experiment station operated by the University of Georgia College of Agriculture. Population in 1950 was 4,265 inhabitants.


  1. To conduct an experiment or experiments.

—ex•per′i•ment′er n.

Syn. Trial.

An experiment is observation that are recorded under controlled conditions of which a series of events intended to demonstrate a possible regularity in the behavior of people, animals or objects. Almost all experiments involve some form of movement. One of the first experiments in history around 600 BC and was performed by Thales of Meletus. Thales observed that if a piece of amber were rubbed with fabric it acquired the property of attracting paperlight objects. The Greeks named this property electricity which was derived from the Greek term for amber. However, since Thales merely recorded what he saw he was not a true experimental scientist.

A modern experimental scientist in the true sense, would apply the same observations to other materials to determine if they too produce some of the same results. He would also attempt to make quantitative determinations of this property in terms of the size of the of amber in combination with the length of time it is rubbed with fabric. The experimental scientist would attempt to explain the property in terms of phenomena observed and understood during previous experiments. In light of modern science and availability of information about atoms and molecular particles, Thales was at a great disadvantage. Modern methods and techniques of experimentation have grown far more complicated.

From the simple concept of experimentation have grown several sciences which build knowledge on prior observations made under controlled conditions which guarantee identical results if repeated. Basic physic best exemplifies such a field of science. Many experiments are conducted and repeated often with an increasing degree of accuracy.

In some fields of science it is not as easy to control the variables or artificially produce experimental results in the confines of a lab. Observational sciences such as astronomy or geology must rely on theories which are dignified only through collection of large amounts of data which has been previously collected. An astronomer cannot collect a sample of Mars' atmosphere and retire to the lab to analyze its composition though he can observe with a spectroscope what light is given off by the planet and indirectly deduce what gasses and chemical composition comprises the Martian atmosphere. However, his results will be no more accurate than his experimental techniques.

Biology often relies on indirect methods of experiment and correlation of data since it deals with living creatures and restricted in the control it can exhibit. Living organisms differ individual to individual therefore, typically, scientists restrict studies to groups and interpret their results in terms of averages. To obtain final results they must use indirect methods for evaluation such as statistics. If working with nonliving specimens the problem is complicated by changes that that occur in tissues after life has expired. Obtaining conclusive results in such cases biologists must use the indirect methods of comparison between the living and nonliving organism to interpret his research.

Experiment in Autobiography. A book by H.G. Wells (1934). (Archive)

Experiment in International Living. An educational exchange institution established in 1932 to promote international understanding. It operates the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont. During the 1980's it had representative nationalities in 64 countries.

See Science, Experimental Sciences, Scientific Method, Science Projects, Sociology (Controlled Experiments).
Experiment Station, see Agricultural Experiment Station.


  • Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language (College Edition) ©1955
  • The American Peoples Encyclopedia ©1960
  • The World Book Encyclopedia ©1981
  • Encyclopedia Britannica Micropedia ©1984
  • The American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition ©1985
  • Related Terms

  • experiential
  • experimental
  • experimental neurosis
  • experimental psychology
  • experimental theater
  • experimentalism
  • experimentally
  • experimentation
  • Further Reading

  • University of Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences
  • experiment (definition)
  • experiment (definition)
  • experiment (definition)
  • experiment (definition)
  • experiment (definition)
  • experiment (definition)
  • experiment (definition)
  • experiment (definition)
  • experiment (definition)
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