Definition of etiology in English:


(British aetiology)


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

    ‘a disease of unknown etiology’
    ‘a group of distinct diseases with different etiologies’
    • ‘The exact etiology of osteoarthritis is unknown.’
    • ‘She presented one year ago with fever, weakness, hepatitis and pneumonitis of unknown etiology.’
    • ‘Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating, chronic multisystem disease with an unknown etiology.’
    • ‘DNA samples from 195 children with chronic lung disease of unknown etiology were analyzed.’
    • ‘The term ‘chronic liver disease’ encompasses a large number of conditions having different etiologies and existing on a continuum between hepatitis infection and cirrhosis.’
    • ‘In most cases, the underlying etiology is atherosclerotic disease of the arteries.’
    • ‘Infectious origins are suspected for many human diseases of unknown etiology, on the basis of epidemiologic and clinical features.’
    • ‘The etiology of asthma is unknown, but it has been linked to occupational exposures, genetics, and environmental factors.’
    1. 1.1The causation of diseases and disorders as a subject of investigation.
      • ‘Study findings have sparked research on the etiology of acute salpingitis, new approaches to treatment, and the immunopathogenesis of C. trachomatis infection in women.’
      • ‘Researchers study etiology in order to develop more effective approaches to treatment and, ultimately, prevention.’
      • ‘As well, information about the prevalence, etiology, and treatment of disorders in Canada provides a base from which comparable findings from other countries are discussed.’
      • ‘The viral etiology of measles- or rubella-like illnesses after MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccination was studied prospectively in 993 acutely ill Finnish children with fever and rash in 1983-1995.’
      • ‘The etiology, natural history, and optimal treatment of respiratory failure have been the subject of active investigation for over 100 years.’
      • ‘After her retirement, she took up the challenge to understand the etiology of bipolar disorder.’
      • ‘Further research regarding the etiology, natural history, pathophysiology, and treatment of subclinical hyperthyroidism is warranted.’
  • 2The investigation or attribution of the cause or reason for something, often expressed in terms of historical or mythical explanation.

    • ‘Al Qaeda's etiology and appeal cannot, as is sometimes argued, be reduced to American support for Israel.’
    • ‘We must assess individual tolerances for maltreatment, etiologies and reasons for enduring perpetration of abuse.’
    • ‘Whatever the etiology of this success for Harvard University Press, Hardt and Negri have evidently hit upon what people want to hear.’
    • ‘As to the etiology of this state of spiritual decline, many historical factors can be held responsible.’
    • ‘Siegel further highlighted the role of abuse in the etiology of female crime in an investigation of women survivors of childhood sexual abuse.’


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