AskDefine | Define ology

Dictionary Definition

ology n : an informal word (abstracted from words with this ending) for some unidentified branch of knowledge

User Contributed Dictionary



From the suffix “-ology” in the names of many sciences


  • (RP): ˈɒlədʒi/, /"Ql@dZi/
  • (US): , /ˈɑlədʒi/, /"Al@dZi/


  1. Any branch of learning, especially one ending in “-logy”.

Related terms


  • 1902: William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience - The ideal world, for them, is not a world of facts, but only of the meaning of facts; it is a point of view for judging facts. It appertains to a different "-ology," ...

Extensive Definition

The English suffix -ology or -logy denotes a field of study or academic discipline, and -ologist describes a person who studies that field. However not every field or study or discipline is an '-ology', for instance the study of childbirth is midwifery and a practitioner is a midwife.


The word ology is a back-formation from the names of these disciplines. "-logy" basically means "the study of ____". Such words are formed from Greek or Latin roots with the terminal -logy derived from the Greek suffix -λογια (-logia), from λόγος (logos) and that from λέγω (lego), to speak. The word ology is thus misleading as the 'o' is actually part of the word stem that receives the -logy ending. For example, the bio part of biology stems from Greek βιος (bios), life. This is why some of the words do not end in -ology (such as mineralogy).

Other words ending in "ology"

Not all words ending in -ology are ologies in the above sense. In some words such as tautology, philology and haplology, the -logy suffix is from the Greek λογος (logos), word, and may denote something related to speech or text. Also called Emology for a scientific name.


Although technically incorrect, "-ology" is sometimes used to describe a subject rather than the study of it. Technology is a typical example. This usage is also widespread in medicine; for example, pathology is often used for specific disease ("We haven't found the pathology yet").
"Ology" can be appended to any word, humorously, when describing its study; such as beer-ology or Wiki-ology. As with other Classical compounds, adding "ology" to a Latin or Greek based prefix may be used to lend grandeur or the impression of scientific rigor to humble pursuits, as in cosmetology (hairdressing) or cynology (dog training.)
There are a few irregular exceptions to the ending "-ologist"; for example theology/theologian.

List of -ologies and what they study





















  • Ufology, the study of Unidentified flying object (UFO) phenomena.
  • Universology, The science of the universe, and the relations which it involves.
  • Unology, the science and study of unity in all of its forms.
  • Uranology, The branch of physics that studies celestial bodies and the universe as a whole.
  • Urbanology, The study of urban problems, esp. as a social science.
  • Urology, the study and treatment of diseases of the urogenital tract, a branch of medicine. Sometimes spelled "ourology".
  • Uronology, That part of medicine which treats of urine.
  • Uroradiology, Examination of the urinary tract by radiological techniques.




  • Zooarchaeology, the study and analysis of animal remains at archaeological sites to reconstruct relationships between people, animals, and their environment (also see Archaeozoology)
  • Zoology, the study of animals
  • Zoopathology ("Animal pathology"), the study of animal diseases
  • zoopsychology, the study of mental processes in animals
  • Zymology, the study of fermentation

Ologies that are not fields of study

Words ending in -ology that are not fields of study, and thus not "ologies" in the sense of this article, are:
  • Anthology, a collection of literary pieces (such as poems).
  • Apology
    • a statement of regret.
    • an explanation for or justification of beliefs.
  • Arcology - enormous habitat (hyperstructure) of extremely high human population density.
  • Chronology is the arrangement or setting out of past events in order of occurrence; the recording of historical events in date sequence.
  • Cosmetology, the art and career of using cosmetics to improve beauty.
  • Dilogy is
    • ambiguous or equivocal speech, or
    • a work composed in two parts (see trilogy)
  • Docimology, a treatise on the art of testing, e.g. in assaying metals.
  • Doxology, a spoken or sung end of a prayer.
  • Eulogy, though not an -ology, is a commemoration of a person's life at his/her funeral.
  • Hagiology is literature dealing with the life of a saint or, indeed, any revered person, a biography of an individual, rather than a study of saints, sainthood or saintliness in general.
  • Heterology, a dissimilarity of parts often attributable to a difference in origin.
  • Homology, a similarity often atributable to common origin
  • Ideology, sometimes spelled idealogy, is a system of ideas about politics, human life or culture.
  • Kibology, joke religion worshiping Kibo.
  • Menology, a register of months, or a calendar of the lives of the saints for each day of the year.
  • Necrology, a list of people who have died, especially in the recent past or during a specific period.
  • Philology, the historical study of languages. This is not a ology in the strict sense, because it is not the study (-ologia) of love (philo-), but the love (philo-) of literature (logia).
  • Phraseology is the way words are put together, therefore the style being used in a sentence, or the set of phrases or the choice of words used by any particular group of people, or a type of register that reflects the form of language used in a certain social situation in which particular subjects are being discussed.
  • Piphilology seems to be a borderline case with some aspects of a field of study, but not a scientific discipline.
  • Reflexology, alternative method of massage, therapy or pressure on certain points of the sole of the feet as a means of relieving nervous tension.
  • Tautology, a self-affirming truth.
  • Terminology, a set of words and/or phrases, usually in relation to some particular canon or field of study e.g. 'mathematical terminology'.
  • Tetralogy of Fallot, an abnormality of the heart consisting of four deformities that often occur together.
  • Trilogy (although not strictly an -ology) is a body of writing in three parts, as tetralogy is that in four parts. Other words such as pentalogy, hexalogy, heptalogy or septology, octology, nonology, and dekology cover larger series.
  • Tropology, the use of tropes in speech or writing.
  • A Zumology is a treatise on the fermentation of liquors.
ology in German: -logie
ology in Malay (macrolanguage): -logi
ology in Japanese: -logy
ology in Turkish: -loji
ology in Urdu: فہرست علوم

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

academic discipline, academic specialty, applied science, area, arena, art, concern, department of knowledge, discipline, domain, field, field of inquiry, field of study, natural science, province, pure science, science, social science, specialty, sphere, study, technicology, technics, technology
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