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[fi-lol-uh-jee] /fɪˈlɒl ə dʒi/
the study of literary texts and of written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, and the determination of their meaning.
(especially in older use) linguistics, especially historical and comparative linguistics.
Obsolete. the love of learning and literature.
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 forms
[fil-uh-loj-i-kuh l] /ˌfɪl əˈlɒdʒ ɪ kəl/ (Show IPA),
philologic, adjective
philologically, adverb
philologist, philologer, noun
nonphilologic, adjective
nonphilological, adjective
unphilologic, adjective
unphilological, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for philological
  • And the biographies were no dry-as-dust treatises, but best-selling books chronicling the exciting life of a philological genius.
  • Without a background of support for philological knowledge, teachers have to make it up on their own.
  • The sheer amount of accompanying commentary and philological footnotes is one of them.
  • The reviews of the first edition in philological periodicals were always friendly, and in many cases exhaustive and valuable.
  • Nor is there much discussion of it, of any interest or value, in the general philological literature.
  • What it taught was a lifeless, archaeological view and what came from its mouth was a dead, philological language.
British Dictionary definitions for philological


comparative and historical linguistics
the scientific analysis of written records and literary texts
(no longer in scholarly use) the study of literature in general
Derived Forms
philological (ˌfɪləˈlɒdʒɪkəl) adjective
philologically, adverb
philologist, (rare) philologer, noun
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for philological



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for philological


a term now rarely used but once applied to the study of language and literature. Nowadays a distinction is usually made between literary and linguistic scholarship, and the term philology, where used, means the study of language-i.e., linguistics (q.v.). It survives in the titles of a few learned journals that date to the 19th century. Comparative philology was a former name for what is now called comparative linguistics (q.v.).

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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