View synonyms for etiology


or ae·ti·ol·o·gy

[ ee-tee-ol-uh-jee ]


, plural e·ti·ol·o·gies.
  1. Pathology.
    1. the study of the causes of diseases.
    2. the cause or origin of a disease.
  2. the study of causation.
  3. any study of causes, causation, or causality, as in philosophy, biology, or physics.


/ ˌiːtɪəˈlɒdʒɪkəl; ˌiːtɪˈɒlədʒɪ /


  1. a variant spelling of aetiology


/ ē′tē-ŏlə-jē /

  1. The cause or origin of a disease, condition, or constellation of symptoms or signs, as determined by medical diagnosis or research.

Discover More

Derived Forms

  • etiological, adjective
  • ˌetiˈologist, noun
  • ˌetioˈlogically, adverb

Discover More

Other Words From

  • eti·olo·gist noun

Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of etiology1

First recorded in 1545–55; from Latin aetiologia, from Greek aitiología “determining the cause of something,” from aití(a) “cause” + -o- -o- + -logia -logy

Discover More

Example Sentences

It seems to be part of its etiology, its moral and social origins and effects.

At autopsy, researchers have reported the presence of viral protein in the actual heart muscle of deceased patients—so viral involvement is possible, though the true etiology may be multifactorial.

From Fortune

What we do know is that, speaking generally, there are multiple possible etiologies of a sudden loss of consciousness in athletes.

From Fortune

Friendship is the trump card in the movement for equality, not etiology.

The distinction is based chiefly upon etiology, although each type presents a more or less distinctive blood-picture.

Certainly there is no reason in any definitely known etiology of the affections.

This is all the more surprising as the two affections are so different in their etiology.

This idea is very suggestive when considered in relation to the etiology of bothriocephalous anmia.

This fact is of great importance in connexion both with problems of etiology and the practical question of operations on the eye.


Discover More

More About Etiology

What does etiology mean?

The etiology of a disease is its cause or origin.

Etiology is also the name for the study of the causes of diseases. It can also refer to the study of the cause of things in other fields, such as philosophy and physics. But it is most commonly used in the context of medicine. In British English, it is spelled aetiology.

Example: The doctors have taken some samples and are working to determine the etiology of the disease.

Where does etiology come from?

The first records of etiology in English come from the mid-1500s. Etiology derives from the Greek aitiología, meaning “determining the cause of something.” This is formed from aitía, “cause,” and –logia, which is the basis of -logy, which indicates the study of something.

In medicine, etiology involves studying the factors that cause a disease. This is done for individual patients to determine how they became sick and to diagnose their illness. But it is also done on a broader scale to determine the origin of diseases. Epidemiologists study how diseases spread throughout large populations and try to detect the source and cause of epidemics.

When a cause of a disease is determined, this is called its etiology. For example, the etiology of cholera is known to be a bacterium that contaminates food and drinking water in places with poor sanitation.

Although etiology is most commonly used in medicine, it can also be used in the context of any field in which the causes of things are studied. An example of etiology in psychology is the study of the causes of mental disorders.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to etiology?

  • aetiology (British English spelling)
  • etiological (adjective)
  • etiologically (adverb)
  • etiologist (noun)

What are some words that share a root or word element with etiology?

What are some words that often get used in discussing etiology?


How is etiology used in real life?

Etiology is a formal, technical word that’s primarily used in medicine, but it can be used in other contexts as well.



Try using etiology!

Is etiology used correctly in the following sentence?  

The etiology of a disease isn’t always so simple—sometimes there are multiple factors.