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See more synonyms for ecology on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural e·col·o·gies for defs 2, 3.
  1. the branch of biology dealing with the relations and interactions between organisms and their environment, including other organisms.
  2. the set of relationships existing between organisms and their environment: desert ecologies.
  3. the set of relationships existing between any complex system and its surroundings or environment: the ecology and politics of healthcare.
  4. Also called human ecology. the branch of sociology concerned with the spacing and interdependence of people and institutions.
  5. advocacy for the protection of natural resources from pollution or its effects; environmentalism.
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Also Archaic, oe·col·o·gy.

Origin of ecology

1870–75; earlier oecology < German Ökologie < Greek oîk(os) “house, dwelling” + -o- + German -logie -logy; term introduced by E. H. Haeckel
Related formsec·o·log·i·cal [ek-uh-loj-i-kuh l, ee-kuh-] /ˌɛk əˈlɒdʒ ɪ kəl, ˌi kə-/, ec·o·log·ic, adjectiveec·o·log·i·cal·ly, adverbe·col·o·gist, nounun·ec·o·log·i·cal, adjectiveun·ec·o·log·i·cal·ly, adverb
Can be confusedbiosphere ecology ecosystem environment habitat
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for oecology

Historical Examples

  • Ecology or Oecology, the study of plants in relation to each other and to their environment (see Plants: Ecology).

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 4, Slice 3


British Dictionary definitions for oecology


  1. a less common spelling of ecology
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Derived Formsoecological (ˌɛkəˈlɒdʒɪkəl, ˌiː-), adjectiveoecologically, adverboecologist, noun


  1. the study of the relationships between living organisms and their environment
  2. the set of relationships of a particular organism with its environment
  3. the study of the relationships between human groups and their physical environment
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Also called (for senses 1, 2): bionomics
Derived Formsecologist, noun

Word Origin

C19: from German Ökologie, from Greek oikos house (hence, environment)
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 oecology



1873, "branch of science dealing with the relationship of living things to their environments, coined by German zoologist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) as Okologie, from Greek oikos "house, dwelling place, habitation" (see villa) + -logia "study of" (see -logy). In use with reference to anti-pollution activities from 1960s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

oecology in Medicine


  1. The branch of science that is concerned with the relationships between organisms and their environments.
  2. The relationship between organisms and their environments.
  3. The study of the detrimental effects of modern civilization on the environment, with a view toward their prevention or reversal through conservation.
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Related formse′co•logi•cal (ē′kə-lŏjĭ-kəl, ĕk′ə-) null adj.e•colo•gist n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

oecology in Science


  1. The scientific study of the relationships between living things and their environments. Also called bionomics
  2. A system of such relationships within a particular environment.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

oecology in Culture


The study of living things, their environment, and the relation between the two.

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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.