Definition of philology in English:

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Pronunciation: /fəˈläləjē/


1The branch of knowledge that deals with the structure, historical development, and relationships of a language or languages.
Example sentences
  • The main linguistic tool employed for reconstructing languages is the comparative method or comparative philology, first developed by Sir William Jones, an Englishman living in India.
  • Both a study in philology and a history of ideas, The American Language continued in the tradition of Webster and Whitman to defend American English against its detractors.
  • In philology, our Sanskrit language is now universally acknowledged to be the foundation of all European languages, which, in fact, are nothing but jargonized Sanskrit.
1.1chiefly North American Literary or classical scholarship.
Example sentences
  • One principle of editing arises from the rich tradition of textual criticism in philology.
  • The relationship between reading, understanding and the construction of consciousness has been extensively studied in philology and in hermeneutic and phenomenological philosophy, which Manguel does not discuss.
  • The highly flexible nature of the studia humanitatis encouraged the study of a variety of new disciplines, such as classical philology, literature, history, and moral philosophy.



Pronunciation: /ˌfiləˈlōjēən/
Example sentences
  • Paul wants to dispose of the wisdom of this world: his enemies are the good philologians and physicians of the Alexandrine school on them he makes his war.
  • In the absence of a complete up-to-date philological dictionary his four published volumes serve the philologian, and not merely the historical linguist.


Pronunciation: /ˌfiləˈläjək(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • As he unravels the origins of Tolkien's work, Shippey goes into great philological detail about the origins of words.
  • The Berlin anthropologist Bastian argued that Humboldt's ‘comparative method’ allowed natural science to surpass historical and philological criticism as a tool for interpreting human culture.
  • Using his humanist skills in rhetoric, philosophy, and philology, he demonstrated that its historical anachronisms, philological errors, and contradictions in logic revealed that the Donation was an 8th-century forgery.


Pronunciation: /ˌfiləˈläjik(ə)lē/
Example sentences
  • Twentieth-century approaches to palaeography included the philologically based methods of Ludwig Traube of Munich and the technical and aesthetic perceptions of E. A. Lowe.
  • Because of such developments, the term Indo-European is still historically, philologically, and taxonomically sound, but it has lost its geographical rationale.
  • For example, Davis treats various kinds of ambiguity that are philologically quite different on more or less the same plane.


Pronunciation: /fəˈläləjəst/
Example sentences
  • The philologists claimed that Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, Amharic, etc., were ‘Semitic’ languages, even though philologists could never find a parent Semitic language from which they all derived."
  • Singh avoids the uncomfortable example of the Mayan script to which various cryptographic techniques were applied to no avail, until the linguistic insight of the Russian philologist Knorosov provided success in decipherment.
  • The Swiss philologist had shown that all meaning was not inherent in terms (still less their objects), but in the relations between terms.


Late Middle English (in the Greek sense): current usage (late 17th century) from French philologie, via Latin from Greek philologia 'love of learning' (see philo-, -logy).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: phi·lol·o·gy

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