Heuristics Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

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Heuristics (heu·​ris·​tic\ \hyu̇-ˈri-stik) play important roles in both decision-making and problem-solving — but what exactly are they, and where did this confusing word come from?

You have questions, and we have answers. Read on as we explore the fascinating world of terminology to uncover all there is to know about the mystifying word heuristics. 

What Is the Definition of Heuristics?

According to the Macmillan Dictionary, the noun heuristics refers to a way of solving problems by discovering solutions based on your own experiences. 

Additionally, “availability heuristic” refers to our minds’ tendency to rely heavily on information that is easy to recall when making decisions — even if they often lead to systematic errors or cognitive biases.

There are a few other commonly used types of heuristic techniques that we have listed for you to review below:

  • Peak-End Heuristics
  • Representativeness Heuristics 
  • Anchoring and Adjustment Heuristics
  • Regency Heuristics (also known as availability heuristics)

Note: When used as an adjective, the word heuristic can be defined as enabling someone to discover or learn something independently.  

What Is the Origin of Heuristics?

The term heuristic comes from German heuristisch and Greek heuretikos (meaning “inventive”), which in turn relates to the word heuriskein, meaning “to find” or “to discover.” 

Heuristics are sometimes also referred to as “rules of thumb” or “mental shortcuts” and dates back to Ancient Greece. That said, the study of heuristics in human decision-making wasn’t developed until sometime around the 1970s by psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.  

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Heuristics?

If you ask us, a key aspect of learning and communicating effectively in English is the use of synonyms and antonyms. 

In case you have forgotten since your days back in grade school, synonyms are different terms that possess the same meaning, whereas antonyms are terms that are opposite in meaning. 


  • Rule of thumb
  • Empiric 
  • Trial and error 
  • Vet
  • Veteran
  • Practical
  • Pragmatic 
  • Applied
  • Real
  • Real-world
  • Objective 
  • Hands-on
  • Based on observation
  • Didactic
  • Instructive
  • Enlightening
  • Instructional
  • Moral
  • Abstruse
  • Teaching
  • Homiletical
  • Preachy
  • Edifying
  • Moralistic
  • Teacherish
  • Teacherly 
  • Experienced based
  • Wordly wise
  • Non-theoretical 
  • Educated guess
  • Prototype theory 
  • How to
  • In the field 
  • Intuitive judgment 
  • Stereotyping 
  • Penetrating 
  • Nosy
  • Prying
  • Probing
  • Curious
  • Investigative
  • Questioning
  • Inquisitive 
  • Common sense
  • Heuristic technique 
  • Intuition 
  • Profiling 
  • Wondering
  • Fact-finding 
  • Outward looking


  • Corrupting
  • Noneducational
  • Stupefying
  • Unenlightening
  • Uninformative
  • Uninstructive
  • Unilluminating
  • Disinterested
  • Incurious
  • Unskeptical
  • Morally corrupt
  • Suppositive 
  • Academical
  • Analytical
  • Idealized
  • Projected 
  • Tentative 
  • In theory 
  • Based on guesswork
  • Postulatory
  • Untested 
  • Groundless
  • Unsubstantiated 
  • Morally bereft
  • Hypothetical 
  • Morally bankrupt
  • Speculative 
  • Theoretical 

How Can You Use Heuristics in a Sentence?

By now, you likely understand that heuristics are mental shortcuts that allow people to solve problems and make judgments in a quick and efficient manner — but do you know how to use our word of the day in a sentence? 

Not to worry; we’ve got you covered with some excellent sentence examples listed for you to review below:

“Were you aware that a heuristic, as defined by Anderson, is simply a rule of thumb that often leads to a solution?”

“I am not saying you are wrong for using heuristics; it’s just that personally, I believe algorithmic decision making to be far superior. ” 

“I think we can make better decisions by utilizing a more critical thinking style of the decision-making process, as opposed to the more commonly accepted heuristic approach.” 

“Is there any real need to prove the capital importance of heuristic?”

“We really have to thank the economists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman for their contributions to various heuristic methods and behavioral economics as a whole.” 

“I truly believe in bounded rationality, but hear me out here. We will always rely on the use of heuristics, or simply just take a heuristics approach to most things — our cognition is ultimately limited after all.” 

“Mr. Jones thinks heuristics directs attention to unconstructive behaviors.”

“The most commonly used type of heuristics in my family is easily the representativeness heuristic approach.” 

“Did you know that heuristics can be mental shortcuts that ease the cognitive load of making a tough decision?”

“My goal is to change my major and shift the majority of my research to the study of heuristics and biases.” 

“Do you have any examples of heuristic decision-making?”

What Are Translations of Heuristics?

Now that you understand all there is to know about the term heuristics; you might be wondering how to say it in a different language. Below, you’ll find common translations of heuristics:

  • Afrikaans — heuristiek
  • Arabic — الاستدلال
  • Bulgarian — Евристики
  • Danish — Heuristik
  • American English — heuristics
  • French — heuristique
  • Italian — euristica
  • Japanese — ヒューリスティックス
  • Korean — 추론
  • Norwegian — Heuristikk
  • German — Heuristik
  • Greek — ευρετική
  • Dutch — heuristiek
  • Thai — ฮิวริสติก
  • Turkish — Sezgisel
  • Ukrainian — Евристики
  • Vietnamese — heuristics
  • Polish — Heurystyki
  • British English — heuristics 
  • Portuguese — heurística
  • Russian — эвристика
  • Spanish — heurística
  • Swedish — heuristik
  • Finnish — heuristiikka
  • Chinese (simplified) — 启发式
  • Croatian — heuristike
  • Czech — heuristika

Translations for Mental Shortcut

We’ve also included translations for mental shortcut — a related term most commonly associated with heuristic techniques:

  • Japanese — 精神的なショートカット
  • Korean — 정신적 지름길
  • Norwegian — mental snarvei
  • Polish — skrót myślowy
  • Portuguese — atalho mental
  • Russian — ментальный ярлык
  • Afrikaans — geestelike kortpad
  • Arabic — اختصار عقلي
  • Spanish — atajo mental
  • Swedish — mental genväg
  • Thai — ทางลัดทางจิต
  • Turkish — zihinsel kısayol
  • Ukrainian — розумовий ярлик
  • Vietnamese — lối tắt tinh thần
  • Bulgarian — душевен пряк път
  • Chinese (simplified) — 心理捷径
  • Croatian — mentalni prečac
  • Dutch — mentale snelkoppeling
  • Finnish — henkinen pikakuvake
  • French — raccourci mental
  • German — mentale Abkürzung
  • Greek — νοητική συντόμευση
  • Italian — scorciatoia mentale
  • Czech — mentální zkratka
  • Danish — mental genvej


In short, heuristics is essentially any problem-solving technique that uses various mental shortcuts or particular methods to arrive at a conclusion sooner rather than later— albeit these are often not optimal, let alone rational. 

A heuristics decision-making strategy is chiefly based upon past experiences and reasoning.


HEURISTICS (noun) definition and synonyms | Macmillan Dictionary

HEURISTIC English Definition and Meaning | Lexico.com

Heuristics: Definition, Examples, and How They Work | Simply Psychology