Strange Studies Worthy of a College Degree

Read your syllabus!

People select a college major out of interest, practicality, or perhaps desperation, but whatever the subject, it’s probably ordinary compared to the ones in our course catalog. From Angelology to Scatology, we’re touring the campus of out-of-the-ordinary fields of study in which some people may (or may not) specialize. Degree not required!

 

Autology (Or, Self Reflection)

We practice autology just about every time we look at ourselves in the mirror—checking out new wrinkles, poking and prodding uninvited fleshy bits, and doing the scrunch-face to trim unsightly nose hairs. Autology is the study of oneself.

Balneology (Or, the Super-Hygienic)

Balneology, investigating the benefits of bathing, is perhaps the most relaxing subject a person could specialize in. Candles, rose petals, and essential oils are extra credit. If more folks studied balneology, people would simply be too relaxed by all the spas and therapeutic springs to hold either a grudge or anything remotely heavy like a weapon.

Dysteleology (Or, Lacking Purpose)

Ever wondered how the whale feels about having a purposeless leg bone buried in its back? Or about the ostrich’s outlook on life, being a winged but flightless bird? The whale’s useless leg and the ostrich’s earth-bound wings are called vestigial structures because they’re vestiges from prehistoric ancestors. Dysteleology deals with the study of purposeless organs.

Escapology (Or, Exactly What it Sounds Like)

Fans of Houdini would likely know that the famed magician was a master in escapology, or the study and practice of escaping from restraints.  In total contrast to the delightful charm and exhilaration of magical escapology, countless mundane non-magicians are practiced escapologists when it comes to breaking away from the everyday constraints (i.e. responsibilities) in life. Those escapologists are rarely applauded.

Garbology (Or, Wast Management 201)

Perhaps you assumed this next field of study is related to the cutthroat world of high-end fashion and everything related to couture garb. Oh, how that mighty idea will fall into the academic garbage heap. And when it does, you can study it in garbology class! With Americans producing over 250 million tons of trash in 2013 alone, garbologists, folks specializing in the study of people’s trash, have no shortage of material to analyze.

Hamartiology (Or, What Your Mother-in-Law Studied)

Ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the Golden Delicious Apple of Original Sin, hamartiology has gained plenty of subjects to study. Rooted in the Greek hamartia, meaning “to miss the mark,” hamartiology is a subfield of Christian theology that investigates human error or sin.

Kalology (Or, the Study of YOU)

What makes someone beautiful? Can human beauty be codified or calculated? Kalology, the study of beauty, sets out to answer these questions. From the Greek kalon, “beautiful, good,” this field of study is under the umbrella of aesthetics, the critical evaluation of the beautiful and emotional in art. Kalology’s main canvas, however, is the human form.

Oikology (Or, Homebodies Rejoice)

Oikology has a far-off, foreign sound, but the subject is far closer to home. In fact, it is the home, as oikology is the study or science of housekeeping. This field lends an additional layer of meaning to homework. Assignments are a trifecta of toil: academic work, housework and hard work!

Parthenology (Or, an Invasion of Privacy)

Parthenology is not, in fact, the study of the Parthenon. It's the study of virgins. In Ancient Greece, parthenos referred to a “virgin or unmarried woman.” Athena, goddess of wisdom and inspiration, was thought to be a virgin. Every four years, people celebrated Athena in a giant festival. Young virgins paraded the streets with sacred baskets and sacrificial animals to present at Athena’s altar. Evidently, parthenologists were needed to inspect these special young ladies.

Philematology (Or, K-I-S-S-I-N-G)

Philematology is the scientific study of kissing. In Greek, -phile means “lover of;” the Greeks sensed the inherent connection between love and smooches, so logically they tagged a couple more letters on and philema is “a kiss.” Nobody needs to be told how fun kissing is. But from a scientific perspective, the peck is packed with processes: a full-on smooch recruits up to 34 facial muscles. During a make-out session, couples exchange an average of 9 mL of water and over 270 different species of bacteria!

Scatology (Or, Everybody Poops)

Scatology, if you recall, deals with the illustrious study of dung. The feces in question can be fresh or fossilized. In biology, scatological research reveals information about a creature’s diet and health. From an anthropological perspective, in the 1800s, John Gregory Burke wrote a comprehensive book on the subject, called Scatologic Rites of All Nations. He looked at how poop, or “excrementitious remedial agents,” was used around the world in religion, therapy, and witchcraft. As fascinating as that sounds, we'll have to flush this one.

Accidence (Or, Grammar Experts)

Higher powers must have a sense of humor to name the science of grammatical inflections accidence. Beyond the comic connection to disasters and accidents, the study of grammar inflections means looking at how words change form depending on their function; like a single toe becomes multiple toes with an -s. Or the life and death difference between live in the present and lived in the past.

Sign up for our Newsletter!
Start your day with weird words, fun quizzes, and language stories.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The Dictionary Is More Than The Word Of The Day

Enter your email for quizzes, quotes, and word facts in your inbox every day.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.