- The study of the causes. For example, of a disorder. The word "etiology" is mainly used in medicine, where it is the science that deals with the causes or origin of disease, the factors which produce or predispose toward a certain disease or disorder. Today in medicine one hears (or reads) that "the etiology is unknown." Translation — we don't know the cause. Aetiology is the preferred spelling in some countries, including the UK, whereas "etiology" without an "a" has taken over in the US. The word comes from the Greek "aitia", cause + "logos", discourse.
* * *1. The science and study of the causes of disease and their mode of operation. Cf.:pathogenesis. 2. The science of causes, causality; in common usage, cause. [G. aitia, cause, + logos, treatise, discourse]
* * *1) the cause or causes of a disease or abnormal condition <some types of cancer have a viral \etiology> <a multiple \etiology in which biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors all play a role (M. E. Jackson )(et al)>2) a branch of medical science dealing with the causes and origin of diseases
* * *n.
* * *eti·ol·o·gy (e″te-olґə-je) [etio- + -logy] 1. the study or theory of the factors that cause disease and the method of their introduction to the host. 2. the causes or origin of a disease or disorder. Cf. pathogenesis.
Medical dictionary. 2011.