[ eth-nol-uh-jee ]
See synonyms for: ethnologyethnologicalethnologic on

  1. a branch of anthropology that analyzes cultures, especially in regard to their historical development and the similarities and dissimilarities between them.

  2. (formerly) a branch of cultural anthropology dealing with the origin, distribution, and distinguishing characteristics of human societies.

Origin of ethnology

First recorded in 1835–45; ethno- + -logy

Other words from ethnology

  • eth·no·log·i·cal [eth-nuh-loj-i-kuhl], /ˌɛθ nəˈlɒdʒ ɪ kəl/, eth·no·log·ic, adjective
  • eth·no·log·i·cal·ly, adverb
  • eth·nol·o·gist, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use ethnology in a sentence

  • From the stand-point of the ethnologist, a more interesting situation than the one time developed could not possibly be devised.

    The Aztec Treasure-House | Thomas Allibone Janvier

British Dictionary definitions for ethnology


/ (ɛθˈnɒlədʒɪ) /

  1. the branch of anthropology that deals with races and peoples, their relations to one another, their origins, and their distinctive characteristics

Derived forms of ethnology

  • ethnologic (ˌɛθnəˈlɒdʒɪk) or ethnological, adjective
  • ethnologically, adverb
  • ethnologist, noun

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for ethnology


[ (eth-nol-uh-jee) ]

The study of contemporary cultures, in order to develop a theoretical framework for analyzing human society. Cultural anthropologists generally study societies by living among the people, observing, interviewing, and participating in their activities. More than simply describing the customs of these societies, anthropologists attempt to uncover underlying patterns and structures of cultural characteristics, such as language, mythology, gender roles, symbols (see also symbol), and rituals.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.