Ologies, ologist and use in modern language
“Piscatology” is not the study of people who drink too much but an old term for the hobby of fishing with rod-and-line. Talking of fish studies, it is easy to figure out what the following study: archaeo-ichthyologists (old fishes), neo-ichthyologists (modern fishes), chondrichthyologists (cartilaginous fishes), ethno-ichthyologists (people and fishes), coelacanthologists (old fourlegs) and ichthyotoxicologists (poisons and poissons)!
How do I know? Because I have been collecting words ending in “ology” since I was a second year student at Rhodes. My list now numbers 2 266 words ending in ology (“a subject of study or interest”) that have been published in dictionaries or other books or used in social media. I also have an additional list of 63 ologys that are “characters of writing or speech”.
The shortest ology is, well, ology, the study of all knowledge, followed by öology, the little boys’ favourite, collecting and studying bird’s eggs. The longest is inevitably a medical term, ethnotraumapsychopharmacology (impact of drugs on behaviour, stress management and the mind) as medical doctors like to brag about their high levels of specialisa- tion. Close on its heels is psychoneuroendocroimmunology (impact of the mind and the nervous and endocrine systems on immunity).
The earliest use of an ology is meteorology, which entered the English language in 1620 but was used by Aristotle in 340 BCE as “meteorologie”. Other early ologys include geology, used by St Bede as “geologie” in 735 CE to distinguish earthly from godly matters (now theology), aetiology (origin and causes of diseases, 1555), physiology (how the body functions, 1564) and tautology (circular arguments, 1579).
The first ology to enjoy widespread use was probably anthropology (different human cultures, 1593).
Some recent examples: dodology (dodos, 2002), greeniology (green living, 2007), arkeology (unexplained phenomena, 2007), buyology (neuromarketing, 2008), potterology (impact of Harry Potter books on children’s literacy, 2008) and boffinology (popular history of scientists, 2010).
Some “language” ologys include apology (regretful acknowledgement of an offence), cacology (bad speech), dittology (two-fold mean- ing), doxology (short hymn in praise to God), leptology (tedious discourse on trifling things) and pseudology (telling lies, first used long ago, in 1658!).
My favourite ologys include ferroequinology (steam locomotives or “iron horses”) and garbageology (household rubbish as a marker of social status and aspirations).
Now that you are an expert ologist, can you figure out which fields of study the following apply to: algology, orchidology, boxology, choreology, formicology, irenology, quirkology? You will be surprised by some of the answers!