[ than-uh-tol-uh-jee ]
/ ˌθæn əˈtɒl ə dʒi /


the study of death and its surrounding circumstances, as in forensic medicine.
Psychiatry. the study of the effects of death and dying, especially the investigation of ways to lessen the suffering and address the needs of the terminally ill and their survivors.

Nearby words

  1. thanage,
  2. thanato-,
  3. thanatobiologic,
  4. thanatognomonic,
  5. thanatoid,
  6. thanatophobia,
  7. thanatopsis,
  8. thanatos,
  9. thane,
  10. thaneship

Origin of thanatology

First recorded in 1835–45; thanato- + -logy

Related formsthan·a·to·log·i·cal [than-uh-tl-oj-i-kuh l] /ˌθæn ə tlˈɒdʒ ɪ kəl/, adjectivethan·a·tol·o·gist, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for thanatology


/ (ˌθænəˈtɒlədʒɪ) /


the scientific study of death and the phenomena and practices relating to it

Word Origin for thanatology

C19: from Greek thanatos death + -logy

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 thanatology



"scientific study of death," 1842, from Greek thanatos "death" (from PIE *dhwene- "to disappear, die," perhaps from root meaning "dark, cloudy") + -logy. Thanatism (1900) is the belief that at death the soul ceases to exist. Hence also thanatos. In 1970s, some undertakers made a bid to be called thanatologists; but from 1974 that word was used in reference to specialists in the needs of the terminally ill.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for thanatology


[ thăn′ə-tŏlə-jē ]


The study of death and dying, especially of their psychological and social aspects.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.