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Etymology Task Force
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Various topics[edit]

I'd like to bring up the idea for a 'lowest acceptable threshold' for inclusion of words on this page. Take for example "Pekingology" and "Kremlinology". Initially I was skeptical about both these entries and as a first step tried both terms in Google. The Google search for "Kremlinology" turned up some 871 results and it appears therefore to have at least a small community that understands the term, though it does not appear to be study in the same formal sense as most of the other ologies listed on this page. However, a Google search for "Pekingology" returns only 14 results. Both terms seem to refer to the observation of the respective governments (Russian and China) by outside interests. In this sense, this usage could generalize to any government (Baghdadology?).

My query is not specifically about the two terms - though I'd suggest they're on the low end (Kremlinology), and very low end (Pekingology) of usefulness for inclusion in an encyclopedia - it's just that there must be some level below which ology terms are either a) too obscure, b) not clearly defined (multiple meanings between users of the term), or c) too ephemeral, d) not really ologies at all, to be worth including. I'm not suggesting a coarse 'minimum number of hits' or anything similar - "Xylology" gets only 74, an order of magnitude less than "Kremlinology" at 871 - but there should be some guideline, I think.

If we include these two then I'd be inclined to include "Macrology" (990 hits) as 'computer science: the study of macros, especially complex and esoteric macros' though this is a pretty obscure meaning to anyone other than a hacker.

I think my point comes down to this: for nearly any given verb or noun you'll find someone who has added 'ology' to it and has their own definition of the terms meaning. Where do you draw the line for inclusion in this list?

Some examples to ponder:

  • Smilology - 2 hits, no real meaning
  • Testology - 27 hits, at least three 'meanings'.
  • Ghostology - 109 hits, the obvious paranormal meaning.
  • Hamburgerology - 149 hits, a McDonald's qualification as far as I can tell.
  • Humorology - 201 hits, funnies.
  • Mechanology - 395 hits, references to a) precision instruments, and b) a company
  • Macrology - 990 hits, computer science: macros in Lisp and TECO.
  • Cosmetology - 16,000 hits, meanings vary from beauty therapy to new branch of orthopedics (about 350 references in this second sense according to Google).

Also, I noticed Therilogy and Mammology seem to both mean 'the study of mammals'. Are these synonyms, or is there some distinction? Angiology and lymphology also seem to overlap (or perhaps lymphology is a subset of angiology?).

Finally, I suspect that if you start to factor in all the medical ologies (both as studies and as practical medicine) there would be hundreds (thousands?) of ologies - maybe these should be factored out into a separate list if the list grows too large. Example:

  • Stomatology (21,500 hits)
  • Audiology (242,000 hits)
  • Peridontology (498 hits)
  • Otorhinolaryngology (62,000 hits)


Surely an ology isn't just words about something. It is much more than that. It is a science, or a theory, or a study of, or a branch of knowledge about a subject. Words is such an imprecise description, after all everything we ever say, as rational beings, is words, from nonsense to the most learned discourse. Dieter

I responded to Dieter's comment by changing "words about" to "the study of", expanding the etymology to justify this. -- Heron

I knew that someone wouldn't be able to resist mentioning the BT ology advert for this article. ;-)

Thank you, Heron, for pointing that out (that not all -ologies are ologies} and that, in fact, some are bodies of expression or bodies of writing rather than theories or studies, etc. You are absolutely right. It applies to trilogy (not strictly an -ology), which is a body of "three works of writing or words". Phraseology is how one puts words together, a style, then. Hagiology is a body of writing about saints, not necessarily a study of saints. Also quite rightly, haplology is a habit of (mis)pronouncing a word by omitting parts of that word, such as "Febuary" instead of "February".

Thanks for changing the examples where "study", etc, applies. Dieter

My pleasure. By the way, methodology is an in-between case, because it has an original sense, 'the study of methods', and a new, vacuous, pseudoscientific sense, as merely a synonym of 'method'. I hear marketing people using it all the time. Perhaps this word should carry a credibility warning. -- Heron

"An ology. He gets an ology and he says he's failed. You get an ology, you're a scientist!"
Beattie, played by Maureen Lipman in a 1987 British Telecom television advert
"Right, here we go now- A sociology lecture; A bit of psychology, A bit of neurology, A bit of fuckology..."
John Lydon, introduction to No Fun by The Sex Pistols.

I'm not sure how the above are relevant, although they're cute and sexy. I'm I just pointlessly bowdlerizing, mav? --Ed Poor

Seems like you have invented ologyology, congratulations Ping

There're some words on the list, like Trilogy, Tetralogy, Eulogy - these don't end in "ology", so I think that they must be removed. --webkid 17:42, 19 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Removed this:

  • Physiognomy, the study of a person's predominant temper and character in relationship to their physical characteristics, especially their face. A dead science.

Don't know what to do with it, it's not an ology. Kosebamse 12:35, 24 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Where did they get this definition of "haplology"? I understood haplology to be the use of only one of two repeated segments of a word (such as saying "Antanarivo" instead of "Antananarivo", or "hippotamus" instead of "hippopotamus") -- if you've even screwed up and written "shing" instead of "shining", this is what you've done. And it's not always even a mistake -- we do, for example, say "symbology" instead of "symbolology", and "monomial" instead of "mononomial". Wiwaxia 21:42, 4 Nov 2003 (UTC)

"Everybody needs some ology now, oop boopie do" Kevin Ayers (1976) Norwikian 16:19, 15 Nov 2003 (UTC)

If we have NOTOC, maybe we should move the "non-study" ologies further up. -- User:Docu

Surely ufology being the study of ufo's, should not be in the list of ologies that are not studies of subjects. -- User:Mjroots hi

"A Zumology is a treatise on the firmentation of liquors." Correct orthography is of course "fermentation".


This thing does not exist. In Google search, I couldn't find a single article mentioning it. I also learned about radiation and never heard the name. 21:44, 22 October 2006 (UTC)

The Greek root underlying '-logy'[edit]

I have an indifferent knowledge of Greek, but in my hands I hold a reprint of a 1795 Analytical Greek Lexicon (Samuel Bagster and Sons Limited, London), which I bought in 1963. It says that the Greek word, λογια ("logia"), is an accusative plural of λóγιον ("logion"), which, like λεγειν, is a derivation of "lego" = "to speak," but means "oracle" or "revelation." In Greek, therefore, λογια ("logia") means "oracles" (given that it is a plural form).

However, according to the magisterial Oxford English Dictionary, λογια was a suffix in Greek long before words containing it migrated to Latin and later to English, and thus, from the beginning, may not have carried with it the oracular meaning of the whole word λογια, despite identical spelling. But, the connection is strong enough to lend an intriguing nuance to all the -ology words. In an academic discipline or course of study which is an -ology, it could be that the student is actually looking for a message from ultimate reality. Biology may really mean "oracles about living things," or possibly "attempting to discern the ultimate truth about living things!"

Tony Harwood-Jones 04:56, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

On a related matter, is the word logos, meaning word, logic, reason, etc. related? James Callahan 11:45, 22 December 2006 (UTC)


Removed the sentence "Also called Emology for a scientific name." from the section Other words ending in "ology" because it doesn't seem to make sense. There is no page called Emology, not even a redirect, and the word isn't in any of my dictionaries. (Or am I just being slow-witted about this sentence??) --ἀνυπόδητος (talk) 14:40, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

List of -ologies: removed items[edit]

Removed the following items from the -ologies list because, well, they don't end in "-ology":

  • Barodynamics, the science of the support and mechanics of bridges
  • Bibliotics, the study of documents to determine authenticity
  • Biometrics, the study of biological measurement
  • Bionomics, the study of organisms interacting in their environments
  • Botany, the study of plants
  • Cartography, the study of maps and mapmaking

...and these ones because the descriptions are somewhat cryptic. Any ideas what they mean, or whether they exist?

  • RKOlogy , the study of RKOs
  • Uronology, That part of medicine which treats of urine.

I also wanted to remove Scientology because I'd say it's a sect, not a science, but refrained from doing so because it wouldn't be NPOV.

--ἀνυπόδητος (talk) 15:25, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

  • Urology is the part of medicine that deals with the bladder, kidneys etc. Mjroots (talk) 18:47, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

-logy etymologies in wikipedia articles[edit]

Hi -logycians! There is a discussion going on at WikiProject Science Talk Page that could do with some advice. Editors in Wikiproject Science are trying to figure out whether there is any acceptable way to standardize the etymologies we give in wikipedia articles for English words ending in -logy. Any suggestions you had would be most useful. Calypygian (talk) 16:32, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

Changes to the order of this article and Citations[edit]

I'm a little confused by the order of presentation in this article and the lack of citations. The article currently makes clear that there are two main groups of words in English ending in -[o]logy, but it privileges the first group (names of sciences, where the -logy is derived via -log- from legein) over the second group (e.g. eulogy, tetralogy ... where the -logy is derived from logos). However, no reason is given for privileging one group over the other. Also, there are some minor errors (e.g. 'lego' does not mean 'to speak', it means 'I speak'). More importantly, there are no citations provided for any of the etymological claims. This is especially acute, as many of the separate entries on individual sciences in wikipedia are using folk etymologies deriving -logy from the noun 'logos' that are inconsistent with the etymological research summarized on our page, and we need to show that the statements on this page are supported by strong etymological research. Does anyone else feel there is a problem with this presentation? My preference is;- (1) to begin the article by stating that there are two main groups of words in English ending in -[o]logy, providing a number of examples; (2) to provide separate etymologies for both groups of word in an etymology section; (3) to discuss the humorous, creative use of '[o]logy' as a morpheme in contemporary English; (4) if people want, to offer the lists we currently have of cases of both classes of word in English. Calypygian (talk) 15:10, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

I've written a proposed revision as a subpage, here. Calypygian (talk) 18:12, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, that's much better than the current version! I made some minor edits (added Latin transcriptions, etc), I hope you don't mind my messing with yout user page! A few thoughts:
  • Move the sentence with Latin and French forms to the Etymology section?
  • Make it clearer that Lat. -logia comes from Gk. as well.
  • The formulations "in the first/second case" seem a bit unclear if read out of context -- I can't think of a better solution at the moment.
  • Are your sentences sufficiently different from OED etc to avoid copyright infringement?
--ἀνυπόδητος (talk) 15:22, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

Looks good so far! Should we keep the A to Z lists of examples on this page, or create a Wikipedia list page for them? Deamon138 (talk) 21:52, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

WP:Lists seems to favour a separate article, although I am not sure whether they meant lists of our kind when they worded 'a list of the origin and histories of words with a common theme'. However, we would need two list pages, one for biology etc. and one for trilogy etc. Personally, I prefer Calypygian's show/hide boxes. --ἀνυπόδητος (talk) 18:10, 22 August 2008 (UTC)
The show/hide boxes are nice, but I think they might contain an excessive amount of information for show/hide perhaps. I think they could do with their own (two) articles, and that quote from WP:Lists does back that up. With lists, we could be fancy and add more detail on each example e.g. who founded it, when, the other half of the etymology, etc etc. What do you think? Deamon138 (talk) 18:53, 22 August 2008 (UTC)
Good point. I agree. --ἀνυπόδητος (talk) 16:43, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

Calypygian, are you still with us? Shall we move your article to the main space? --ἀνυπόδητος (talk) 11:17, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

See also Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Science/Archive 1 --ἀνυπόδητος (talk) 12:34, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, I was away during the discussion. I agree totally with the result. Job well done, guys! Calypygian (talk) 10:58, 4 October 2008 (UTC)


Removed, seems to be a typo. I couldn't find out what was meant – 90 Google hits, at least some of which are misspellings of hymnology or homology. My apologies if I'm wrong, but please provide a reference if you add it again. --ἀνυπόδητος (talk) 16:16, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

The study of fresh water environments is limnology. The google hits that appear to say that "hmnology" is the study of fresh water environments are either scanning errors or typos.--Palaeoviatalk 23:00, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Er. Could have known this one. --ἀνυπόδητος (talk) 17:22, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

Split proposal[edit]

Deamon138 has suggested above that the two list sections should have their own articles (List of sciences ending in -logy. and List of kinds of speech or writing ending in -logy, respectively). For some arguments see the section #Changes to the order of this article and Citations. --ἀνυπόδητος (talk) 16:51, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

At least as good as my title, but I'm always a bit uneasy about negative definitions.--ἀνυπόδητος (talk) 12:16, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

Citations needed[edit]

I added {{Fact}} templates to all redlinks. They should be verified and created as redirects to the articles that cover the topics. Please provide citations when necessary (especially if the term is not mentioned on the page you link to, or if it is mentioned there, but unsourced). Thanks --ἀνυπόδητος (talk) 12:34, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Isn't this just a dictionary entry?[edit]

Surely this article is completely about the term, only about the term, and nothing except the term. You could cut and paste this straight into the wiktionary, and with only minor formatting changes, it would be a full-fledged dictionary entry.

How is this about "a person, or a people, a concept, a place, an event, a thing etc. that their title can denote." It's simply about the words, and only about the words. It covers nothing more general than that, nor so far as I can tell, could it ever do so.- (User) Wolfkeeper (Talk) 14:48, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

Articles that are only about words, are supposed to be in the wiktionary, which is getting better and better all the time.

I mean, sure, you can mention articles like truthiness, but that's really about a comedic moment, about the circumstances surrounding the word. But this just isn't.- (User) Wolfkeeper (Talk) 14:48, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

You are probably right, but this would need a discussion on a broader basis since there are quite a lot of other articles like that (or even more dictionary-like). See Category:Suffixes and Category:Prefixes plus their subcategories, and probably other articles I am not aware of. --ἀνυπόδητος (talk) 16:49, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
The wikipedia doesn't even have adjectives, never mind parts of words like suffixes and prefixes. I think this needs to become a disamb, and refer to the wiktionary as well.- (User) Wolfkeeper (Talk) 16:52, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
Just to make sure I understand you:
  1. Are you referring to all the suffix and prefix articles?
  2. A disambiguation to where?
Thanks --ἀνυπόδητος (talk) 17:05, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
At the very least there's two distinct usages of this, one as a body of knowledge, the other as a finite collection of writing. They're not really the same thing; there's a strong case for separating them. And it's really very arguable whether suffixes and prefixes should be articles in their own right at all.- (User) Wolfkeeper (Talk) 17:45, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
The only thing that seems very clear to me that this isn't encyclopedic as it stands. If that is agreed we could redirect to suffix or put a disamb page here that lists all of the -logy (there's more than a hundred); or transwiki it to wiktionary or do something else. You could consider making it a subarticle of suffix, that might skirt the problem I suppose.- (User) Wolfkeeper (Talk) 18:21, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
Subarticles (if you mean Suffix/-logy or something like that) are deprecated in article namespace. A list of "-logies" used to be here but has been split into two separate articles (one for each meaning of "-logy"), both of which have been deleted. (See the section "Split proposal" above.) Transwiki-ing and creating a soft redirect to Wiktionary would be a possibility if you think it is appropriate; I don't know enough about Wiktionary to judge.
However, I still would suggest discussing this along with the other suffix and prefix articles, to keep things consistent. The issue seems to have been raised before without getting much attention (see Wikipedia talk:Wikipedia is not a dictionary#How about morphemes?). I'm notifying WikiProject Linguistics, maybe they are interested. --ἀνυπόδητος (talk) 19:20, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
This is not a dictionary entry. This is an encyclopedia article about a suffix that has taken on life as as an independent word ("ology") too. It would have be stripped down and 85% of its content deleted to become an appropriate Wiktionary entry (cf. the already existing wikt:-logy and wikt:-ology). Words and suffixes are also concepts about which encyclopedia articles can be written. —Angr 19:34, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
The policy says that words aren't proper articles; if they were so many things would be allowed that just aren't; articles on adjectives for example. Single or multiple overlapping meanings of word(s) can be a proper article; but articles don't simply discuss a particular term. And I don't see any particular advantage to having this in the wikipedia, rather than the wiktionary.- (User) Wolfkeeper (Talk) 19:56, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
The article isn't going to Wiktionary no matter what, because it's not a dictionary entry. If it's removed from Wikipedia, it will be lost completely. And I definitely don't see any advantage to that. When there is enough interesting to say about a word or morpheme, such as (in this case) the fact that the suffix has taken on a life of its own as a freestanding word (like ism has), then that word or morpheme itself can validly become the topic of an encyclopedia article. We even have a featured article Thou on an individual word, and nothing in the policy rules it out. —Angr 13:33, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
Plenty of articles in the wikipedia are about a single word; or rather the or a meaning of a single word. That's not the question.- (User) Wolfkeeper (Talk) 14:33, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
My point is that Wikipedia allows articles about words as words. The article Thou isn't about thee, it's about the history and usage of the word thou. Likewise, this article is about the history and usage of the suffix -logy; granted, this article isn't as good as Thou, but there's nothing intrinsic about the topic of this article that prevents it from becoming so. —Angr 14:59, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
Exactly. The article is about a word. Encyclopedia articles are about the underlying concept, not the word- that's what a dictionary entry is. The underlying concept of thou is 'you'; really this is about one particular participle of you; it's a split article, and it should really be merged or deleted.- (User) Wolfkeeper (Talk) 23:58, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
Late note: There was more discussion about this at Wikipedia talk:Wikipedia is not a dictionary#Examples of Wikipedia articles on words. Just fyi. -- Quiddity (talk) 23:23, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

Previous list contents[edit]

The list that was at this article until recently, was split into List of sciences ending in -logy and List of non-sciences ending in -logy a few months ago, which have since been deleted. Just leaving a note here, for anyone else wondering where that info completely-disappeared to... *sigh* -- Quiddity (talk) 23:23, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

Bring back the list![edit]

I have made use of the information in the list that used to exist here extensively over the years. I came back today to find it vanished after what appears to have been a fairly pointless debate. Do we really feel it's better to have no list at all than to have a list which some, but not all, feel violates some arbitrary "policy"?

In my opinion, and I would guess the opinion of many others, it's better to have this list somewhere than nowhere at all. Here is as good as any. Anybody objecting if the most recent version with the list gets reverted? (talk) 11:40, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

See -logy#Derived_terms.
Note that wiktionary has over 200 different suffixes listed (in English alone), but the wikipedia currently has maybe 20 of which almost half are chemical endings. I think that -logy will be deleted soon, as there is a perfectly good wiktionary article on it, the name '-logy' violates MOS, there is no policy to even have articles on individual suffixes/prefixes in the wikipedia, and there is a specific policy in wiktionary that they are allowed. Wiktionary does suffixes much more consistently and better than the wikipedia ever will.- (User) Wolfkeeper (Talk) 12:18, 19 July 2009 (UTC)


This article just needs a more encyclopædic treatment to survive. I will begin looking for sources for encyclopædic information, but assistance would be appreciated. Irbisgreif (talk) 00:42, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

For an article to be encyclopedic requires it not to be about a word or morpheme, but about a single underlying concept/topic/subject.
IMO it doesn't even help that there's two quite separate meanings:
  • a combining form used in the names of sciences or bodies of knowledge (e.g. theology or sociology)
  • the root word nouns that refer to kinds of speech, writing or collections of writing (e.g. eulogy or trilogy)
These are quite distinct, and so this article probably fails WP:NOTADICT in a different way also. You're suppoesd to include synonymous words/phrases on a single meaning together but -logy's are not.- (User) Wolfkeeper (Talk) 01:09, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Could someone with access please look at [1], [2], [3]. I think they may have interesting and useful encyclopædic information for the article. Irbisgreif (talk) 03:19, 12 August 2009 (UTC)


What's with that move that just took place? Irbisgreif (talk) 02:33, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

I agree, wtf was the point of it? --Cybercobra (talk) 04:01, 17 August 2009 (UTC)