Scientific Terms

Ologies and Ologists

(or, “There’s an ology for that …)

In the aquatic sciences you’ll frequently encounter words ending in -ology (plural -ologies) and -ologist, these are words that describe a particular academic discipline or field of knowledge (an ology) or a student or expert in that particular discipline (an ologist).
As with the scientific names used to describe aquatic species the names of these various different disciplines are compound words similar in construction to scientific names formed from words of Latin and/or Greek origin.


The first part of the word is descriptive of the field of knowledge being referred to (see table below).

-ology, Greek, -o-, connective vowel; -logy, logia (λογία), the study of a certain subject. The earliest examples of this usage come through French -logie via medieval Latin -logia, the study of.

-ologist, one who studies the field of knowledge described by the prefix.

-ologyEtymologyThe study of …
AlgologyAlg-, Latin, alga, seaweedseaweeds and other algae (1828)
AmphibiologyAmphibi-, Greek, amphibia (αμφιβια), living in both, an animal that lives in both elements (αμφι, both + βιος, life)amphibians (1840)
ArachnologyArachn-, Greek, arachne (αραχνη), spiderarachnids, spiders and their relatives (1861)
Astacology Astac-, Greek, astacos (αστακος), lobster, crayfishcrayfish
Autecology Autec-, Greek, Aut-, auto (αυτο), self; -ec-, eco, oikos (οικος), house(hold), dwelling the ecology of an individual species (1910)
BacteriologyBacter-, Greek, bacterion (βακτηριον), diminutive of βακτρον; stick, staff bacteria (1884)
Biocen-, Greek, Bio-, bios (βιος), life; -cen-, koinosis (κοινωσις) sharing (from koinos (κοινος), common)ecological communities and of interactions among their members (1919)
BioclimatologyBioclimat-, Greek, Bio-, bios (βιος), life; -clima-, klιma (κλιμα), inclination (from klιno (κλινω), to slope, incline) the relationship between climate and living organisms (1910)
BioecologyBioec-, Greek, Bio-, bios (βιος), life; -ec-, eco, oikos (οικος), house(hold), dwellingecology of organisms and their interactions with each other (1923)
Biology Bi-, Greek, bios (βιος), lifelife (1686)
BryozoologyBryozo-, bryzoan, Greek, bryon (βρυον), moss; zoon (ζωον), animal; moss animalbryzoans (1965)
(bryozoologist - 1921)
CarcinologyCarcin-, Greek, karkinos (καρκινος), crabcrustaceans (1853)
CetologyCet-, Greek, ketos (κητος), whalecetaceans - whales, dolphins, and porpoise (1851 - in Moby-Dick)
ChorologyChor-, Greek, khoros (χωρος), country, region, place, spacethe relationship of biological or other phenomena to their locations (1879)
ChronobiologyChronobi-, Greek, Chrono-, chronos (χρονος), time; -bi-, bios (βιος), lifebiological rhythms,
temporal or periodic phenomena in biology (1969)
ClimatologyClimat-, Greek, Clima-, klιma (κλιμα), inclination (from klιno (κλινω), to slope, incline) climate (1813)
ColeopterologyColeopter-, Greek koleopteros (κολεοπτεροσ), sheath-winged (Aristotle)beetles
ConchologyConch-, Greek, konkhos (κογχος), shell, cockle, musselshells and of molluscs (1776)
CrustaceologyCrustace-, post-classical Latin crustacea, originally an order namecrustaceans (1817)
CryptozoologyCryptozo-, Greek, Crypto-, kruptos (κρυπτος), hidden, secret; -zo-, zoion (ζωον), animalunknown, legendary, or extinct animals whose existence or survival to the present day is disputed or unsubstantiated (1968)
DesmidiologyDesmidi-, Greek, desmidion (δεσμιδιον), diminutive of demos (δεσμος), band, chaindesmids, a division of green algae
EchinologyEchin-, Greek, echinos (εχινος), hedgehog, sea-urchinechinoderms (1870)
EcohydrologyEcohydr-, Greek, Eco-, oikos (οικος), house(hold), dwelling; -hydr-, hydοr (υδωρ), water interactions among organisms and the water cycle
EcologyEc-, German, Oecologie (E. Haeckel 1866); Greek, oikos (οικος), house, dwellinginterrelationships between living organisms and their environment (1875)
EmbryologyEmbry-, Greek, embryon (εμβρυον), the unborn, embryoembryos (1781)
EntomologyEntom-, Greek, entomon (εντομον), insectinsects (1766)
EntozoologyEntozo-, Greek, Ento-, entos (εντος), within, inside; -zo-, zoion (ζωον), animalanimals that live inside other animals
EthologyEtho-, Greek, ethos (ηθος), nature or disposition of animals, character, (in plural) customs, hauntsanimal behaviour (1874)
EtymologyEtym-, Greek, etumon (ετυμον), true senseword origins (1666)
FaunologyFaun-, Latin Fauna, Roman goddess of earth and fertility, animal(s); derived from Greek thaunon (θαυνον), wild animal, beastthe geographical distribution of animals
FluviologyFluvi-, Latin, fluvius, riverwatercourses, rivers (1904)
HelminthologyHelminth-, Greek,(ελμινς, ελμινθ-), little worm, parasitic wormparasitic worms (1813)
see also Scolecology and Vermeology"
HerpetologyHerpet-, Greek, herpeton (ερπετον), creeping thing, reptilereptiles and amphibians (1824)
HydrobiologyHydrobi-, Greek, hydro-, hydοr (υδωρ), water; -bi-, bios (βιος), lifethe biology of aquatic plants and animals (1928)
HydrogeologyHydroge-, Greek, hydro-, hydοr (υδωρ), water; -ge- (γη), earthunderground water, water on or below the surface of the earth (1824)
HydrologyHydr-, Greek, hydro-, hydοr (υδωρ), waterwater, its properties, laws, and its distribution (1762)
IchthyologyIchthy-, Greek, ichthys (ιχθυς), fishfish (1646)
LimnobiologyLimnobi-, Greek, limn-, limne (λίμνη), lake, marsh; -o-, connective vowel; -bi-, bios (βιος), lifebiology of lakes and ponds, freshwater ecosystems (1899)
LimnologyLimn-, Greek, limn-, limne (λιμνη), lake, marshinland waters, particularly lakes (1893)
MalacologyMalac-, Greek, malakia (μαλακια), mollusc, cephalopod; malakos (μαλακος), soft; referring to the soft body of a mollusc molluscs (1832)
Malacostracology (see also Crustaceology)Malacostrac-, Greek, malak-, malakos (μαλακος), soft; -ostrac-, ostracon
, shell. A misleading name since the shell is usually hard, only soft immediately after moulting
malacostracans, today crustaceans in general (1847)
MammalogyMamma-, Latin, breast; after French mammalogie (1803); referring to the female mammal’s trait of nursing their youngmammals (1833)
MicrobiologyMicrobi-, Greek, micro-, mikros (μικρος), small; -bi-, bios (βιος), lifemicroorganisms (1880)
Nematology Nemat-, Greek, νηματ-, νημα, threadnematodes (1914)
OceanologyOcean-, Latin, Oceanus the great sea, the ocean; French occeanoceans (c.1300)
OdonatologyOdonat-, Greek, Odonata, from odontos (οδοντoς, οδους), tooth, with reference to the serrated mandiblesdragonflies and damselflies (1917)
OligochaetologyOligochaet-, Greek, Oligo-, oligos (ολιγος), small, little, few; -chaet-, khaite (χαιτη), hair, mane, bristle; referring to the relatively few bristlesoligochaete worms
Ophiology or OphidologyOphi(d)-, Greek, ophis (οφις), serpent, snake; Latin ophiologia (1630), French ophiologie (1809)snakes (1815)
OrnithologyOrnith-, Greek, ornithos (ορνιθο), ornis (ορνις), birdbirds (1770)
Palaeoichthyology (Palaeichthyology)Palaeichthy-, Greek, palaeo-, palaeos (παλαιος), old, ancient; ichthy-, ichthys (ιχθυς), fishextinct fishes (1798)
PaleobiologyPaleobi-, Greek, palaeo-, palaeos (παλαιος), old, ancient; -bi-, bios (βιος), lifeprehistoric life, the biology of extinct and fossil plants and animals (1893)
PalaeolimnologyPalaeolimn-, Greek, palaeo-, palaeos (παλαιος), old, ancient; -limn-, limne (λιμνη), lake, marshancient lake sediments (1942)
PaleontologyPaleont-, Greek, palaeo-, palaeos (παλαιος), old, ancient; -nt-, ont, on (ων), of or relating to being or existenceextinct and fossil humans, animals, and plants (1833)
PaleophytologyPaleophyt-, Greek, palaeo-, palaeos (παλαιος), old, ancient; phyt-, phuton (φυτον), plantextinct and fossil plants (1857);
PaleozoologyPaleozo-, Greek, palaeo-, palaeos (παλαιος), old, ancient; -zo-, zoion (ζωον), animalextinct and fossil animals (1843)
ParasitologyParasit-, Greek, parasitos (παρασιτος), a person who lives at another's expense parasites (1870)
PhycologyPhyc-, Greek, phykos (φυκος), seaweedseaweeds and other algae (1847); (see Algology)
PhysiologyPhysi-, Greek, physiologos (φυσιολόγος) natural philosopher (Aristotle)mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of living organisms (1564)
PhytologyPhyt-, Greek, phuton (φυτον), plantstudy of plants; botany (1658)
PlanktologyPlankt-, Greek, plankton (πλαγκτος), wandering, roaming, driftingplankton (1892)
PolychaetologyPolychaet-, Greek, πολυχατης, with much hair; referring to the segmented bodies with numerous bristlespolychaete worms
PotamologyPotam-, Greek, potamos (ποταμος), riverrivers (1829)
ScolecologyScolec-, Greek, scolex (σκωληκ, σκωληξ), wormworms (1858)
see also Helminthology and Vermeology
SpongologySpong-, Greek, σπογγος, spongesponges (1889)
spongologist (1883)
SynecologySynec-, Greek, Syn-, sun (συν), with, in company with, together with; -ec-, oikos (οικος), house, dwelling the ecological interrelationships among communities of organisms (1910); see also Bioecology
TelmatologyTelmat-, Greek, Telmat (τελματ), bog, marsh swamps and wetlands (1903)
TestaceologyTestace-, Latin, testaceus, covered with a shell, shell fishshells and of molluscs (1804); see Conchology
TeuthologyTeuth-, Greek, teuthis (τευθις), squid, cuttlefishcephalopods (1891)
teuthologist (1886)
TidologyTid-, English, tidetides (1834)
ToxicologyToxic-, Latin, toxicum, poison, originally derived from Greek, τοξικον φαρμακον, poison for smearing arrows; Greek, toxikon (τοξικον), of or pertaining to the bow; pharmakon (φαρμακον), poisonouspoisons (1799)
VermeologyVerme-, Latin, vermis, worm; vermes, obsolete taxon (1758)worms (1828 - 32);
see also Helminthology and Scolecology
VirologyVir-, Latin, vírus, poisonous secretion, venom, virusviruses and virus-like agents(1935)
ZooarchaeologyZooarchae-, Greek, Zoo-, zoion (ζωον), animal; -archae-,arkhaiología (αρχαιολογια), antiquarian lore, ancient legends, historyand analysis of animal remains at archaeological sites to reconstruct relationships between people, animals, and their environment (1972) (also referred to as Archaeozoology)
ZoologyZo-, Greek, zoion (ζωον), animalanimals (1669)
ZoonosologyZoonos-, Greek, Zoo-, zoion (ζωον), animal; -nos-, nosos (νοσος), diseasezoonotic bacterial diseases, disease communicated from one kind of animal to another or to a human (1860)
ZoopathologyZoopath-, Greek, Zoo-, zoion (ζωον), animal; pathos (παθος), diseaseanimal diseases; animal pathology (1879)

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