• synonyms


[ee-thol-uh-jee, ih-thol-]
  1. the study of animal behavior with emphasis on the behavioral patterns that occur in natural environments.
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Origin of ethology

1895–1900; earlier, as the study of relations between an organism and its environment < French éthologie, coined by French zoologist I. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1805–61); see ethos, -logy
Related formse·tho·log·i·cal [ee-thuh-loj-i-kuh l, eth-uh-] /ˌi θəˈlɒdʒ ɪ kəl, ˌɛθ ə-/, adjectivee·tho·log·i·cal·ly, adverbe·thol·o·gist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ethology

Historical Examples

  • It must itself depend on laws of mind and character (psychology and ethology).

    The Idea of Progress

    J. B. Bury

  • I remark by anticipation that this expression implies a reference to Mill's Ethology, of which I shall have to speak.

  • As in Ethology and other deductive sciences, so in Statistics and History there are empirical laws.

  • Etholog′ic, -al, relating to ethology: treating of morality.

British Dictionary definitions for ethology


  1. the study of the behaviour of animals in their normal environment
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Derived Formsethological (ˌɛθəˈlɒdʒɪkəl), adjectiveethologically, adverbethologist, noun

Word Origin

C17 (in the obsolete sense: mimicry): via Latin from Greek ēthologia, from ēthos character; current sense, C19
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

Word Origin and History for ethology


late 17c., "mimicry," from Latin ethologia, from Greek ethologia, from ethos "character" (see ethos). As a branch of zoology, from 1897.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

ethology in Science


[ĭ-thŏlə-jē, ē-thŏl-]
  1. The scientific study of animal behavior, especially as it occurs in a natural environment.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.