• synonyms


  1. the study of literary texts and of written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, and the determination of their meaning.
  2. (especially in older use) linguistics, especially historical and comparative linguistics.
  3. Obsolete. the love of learning and literature.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for philology

Historical Examples of philology

  • And this is not the only truth about philology which may be learnt from Homer.



  • During the interval the progress of philology has been very great.

  • On the other hand, Philology is an organised science, and has its own laws.

  • It is thus in Geology; it is thus in Biology; it is thus in Philology.

  • But I did not devote my time entirely to philology; I had other pursuits.


    George Borrow

British Dictionary definitions for philology


  1. comparative and historical linguistics
  2. the scientific analysis of written records and literary texts
  3. (no longer in scholarly use) the study of literature in general
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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 philology


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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper