Definition of aetiology in English:


(US etiology)


  • 1Medicine
    The cause, set of causes, or manner of causation of a disease or condition:

    ‘the importance of sunlight in the aetiology of melanoma’
    [count noun] ‘a group of distinct diseases with different aetiologies’
    • ‘The differential diagnosis and underlying etiologies are listed in Table 1.’
    • ‘Respiratory distress immediately after birth is common and has various aetiologies.’
    • ‘Lung transplantation represents the last therapeutic option for advanced lung disease of many etiologies.’
    • ‘The authors note that acute MIs in their two study groups probably have different etiologies.’
    • ‘A variety of etiologies accounted for the condition.’
    1. 1.1 The causation of diseases and disorders as a subject of investigation.
      • ‘The etiology of most anxiety disorders, although not fully understood, has come into sharper focus in the last decade.’
      • ‘The etiology of these lesions has been under investigation for decades.’
      • ‘Our conclusions may be helpful in the further investigation of etiology, diagnosis, and therapy for MCS.’
      • ‘The study is a prospective cohort study designed to investigate the aetiology of major chronic diseases.’
      • ‘Research in disease aetiology has shifted towards investigating genetic causes, powered by the human genome project.’
      • ‘This article reviews the epidemiology, etiology, and diagnosis of seizure disorders in the elderly.’
  • 2The investigation or attribution of the cause or reason for something, often expressed in terms of historical or mythical explanation.

    • ‘No single ‘explanation’, no minimalist aetiology, can catch the richness and multivalence of the event.’
    • ‘Their etiology and teleology are explicable within a moral and historical paradigm.’
    • ‘As to the etiology of this state of spiritual decline, many historical factors can be held responsible.’
    • ‘There are several explanations for the etiology of pressure damage.’
    • ‘Aristotle displays some hesitation in his discussion of desire and its relation to practical reason in the aetiology of animal action.’


Mid 16th century: via medieval Latin from Greek aitiologia, from aitia a cause + -logia (see -logy).