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-logy

-logy

-logy is a suffix in English, found in words originally adapted from Greek words ending in -λογία (-logia). The earliest English examples were anglicizations of the French -logie, which was in turn inherited from the Latin -logia.

It has two main senses in English:

  • a combining form used in the names of sciences or bodies of knowledge (e.g. theology or biology)
  • an ending of nouns that refer to kinds of speech, writing or collections of writing (e.g. eulogy or trilogy)

Etymology

In words of the type theology, the suffix is derived originally from -λογ- (-log-) (a variant of -λεγ-, -leg-), from the Greek verb λέγειν (legein, "to speak"). The suffix has the sense of "the character or department of one who speaks or treats of [a certain subject]", or more succinctly, "the study of [a certain subject]".

In words of the type trilogy, the suffix is derived originally from the Greek noun λόγος (logos, "speech"). The suffix has the sense of "[a certain kind of] speaking or writing".

-logy versus -ology

In English names for fields of study, the suffix -logy is most frequently found preceded by the vowel o so the word ends in -ology. In traditional English grammar, the -o- in -ology is not considered part of the suffix -logy. This is because the -o- is not part of the suffix in the original Greek names for fields of study: In these Greek words, the root is always a noun and -o- is the combining vowel for all declensions of Greek nouns. However, when new names for fields of study have been coined in modern English, the formations ending in -logy almost invariably follow the Greek model by adding an -o-, even though there is no grammatical necessity in English. There are two exceptions: petralogy (a variant of petrology) and mineralogy.

Additional usage as a suffix

Per metonymy, words ending in -logy are sometimes used to describe a subject rather than the study of it (e.g. technology). This usage is particularly widespread in medicine; for example, pathology is often used not simply to refer to "the study of a disease" but to refer to "the disease" itself (e.g. "We haven't found the pathology yet").

Books, journals and treatises about a subject also often bear the name of this subject (e. g. Ecology (journal)).

When appended to other English words, the suffix can also be used humorously to create nonce words (e.g. beerology as "the study of beer", Wikiology as "the study of Wikipedia"). As with other classical compounds, adding the suffix to a initial word-stem derived from Greek or Latin may be used to lend grandeur or the impression of scientific rigor to humble pursuits, as in cosmetology ("the study of beauty treatment") or cynology ("the study of dog training").

Additional usage as a substantive

When used as a proper noun, Ology can refer to a particular series of fantasy books and fictional encyclopedias. These currently include Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons, Egyptology: Search for the Tomb of Osiris, Wizardology: The Secrets of Merlin, Pirateology: A Pirate Hunter's Companion, and Mythology: Greek Gods, Heroes, & Monsters.

Lists of words ending in -logy

References

See also

External links

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