Negentropy has also been called: negative entropy, syntropy, extropy or entaxy.


The negentropy of a living system is the entropy that it exports to keep its own entropy low. It lies at the intersection of entropy and life. Negentropy has been used by biologists as the basis for purpose or direction in life, namely cooperative or moral instincts.

Historical frame

The concept and phrase "negative entropy" were introduced by Erwin Schrödinger in his 1944 popular-science book 'What is Life?'. Later, Léon Brillouin shortened the phrase to negentropy, to express it in a more "positive" way of resoning: a living system imports negentropy and stores it. In 1974, Albert Szent-Györgyi proposed replacing the term negentropy with syntropy. That term may have originated in the 1940s with the Italian mathematician Luigi Fantappiè, who tried to construct a unified theory of biology and physics. Buckminster Fuller tried to popularize this usage, but negentropy remains common.

System dynamics

In 2009, Mahulikar & Herwig redefined negentropy of a dynamically ordered sub-system as the specific entropy deficit of the ordered sub-system relative to its surrounding chaos. Thus, negentropy has units [J/kg-K] when defined based on specific entropy per unit mass, and [K−1] when defined based on specific entropy per unit energy. This definition enabled: i) scale-invariant thermodynamic representation of dynamic order existence, ii) formulation of physical principles exclusively for dynamic order existence and evolution, and iii) mathematical interpretation of Schrödinger's negentropy debt.

Related fields

The term Negentropy is not only used in physics and biology, but also in other domains, such as Information Theory, Statistics, Organization management, though with a slightly different meaning, for example: In Risk Management, negentropy is the force that seeks to achieve effective organizational behavior and lead to a steady predictable state.

Related concepts


Extropy is a concept that life will continue to expand throughout the universe as a result of human intelligence and technology.

External sources

▲ Top ▲

» Terminology