the study of literary texts and of written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, and the determination of their meaning.
(especially in older use) linguistics, especially historical and comparative linguistics.
Obsolete. the love of learning and literature.

Origin of philology

1350–1400; Middle English philologie < Latin philologia < Greek philología love of learning and literature, equivalent to philólog(os) literary, studious, argumentative + -ia -y3. See philo-, -logy
Related formsphil·o·log·i·cal [fil-uh-loj-i-kuh l] /ˌfɪl əˈlɒdʒ ɪ kəl/, phil·o·log·ic, adjectivephil·o·log·i·cal·ly, adverbphi·lol·o·gist, phi·lol·o·ger, nounnon·phil·o·log·ic, adjectivenon·phil·o·log·i·cal, adjectiveun·phil·o·log·ic, adjectiveun·phil·o·log·i·cal, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for philologist

Historical Examples of philologist

  • Writing to Holthoff and old Bœckh the philologist for introductions to your father.

  • Here Wolf, a philologist with historical instinct, was a pioneer.

  • And why should not a philologist be able to answer questions acutely?


    George Borrow

  • Even if illegitimacy were the only reason, that would not concern the philologist.

    The Romance of Names

    Ernest Weekley

  • Sometimes a philologist had a pet theory which the facts were made to fit.

British Dictionary definitions for philologist



comparative and historical linguistics
the scientific analysis of written records and literary texts
(no longer in scholarly use) the study of literature in general
Derived Formsphilological (ˌfɪləˈlɒdʒɪkəl), adjectivephilologically, adverbphilologist or rare philologer, noun

Word Origin for philology

C17: from Latin philologia, from Greek: love of language
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 philologist

1640s, "literary person;" 1716, "student of language," from philology + -ist.



late 14c., "love of learning," from Latin philologia "love of learning, love of letters, love of study, literary culture," from Greek philologia "love of discussion, learning, and literature; studiousness," from philo- "loving" (see philo-) + logos "word, speech" (see logos).

Meaning "science of language" is first attested 1716 (philologue "linguist" is from 1590s; philologer "linguistic scholar" is from 1650s); this confusing secondary sense has not been popular in the U.S., where linguistics is preferred. Related: Philological.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper