Definition of philology in US English:



  • 1The branch of knowledge that deals with the structure, historical development, and relationships of a language or languages.

    • ‘Having mastered Sanskrit, he translated parts of Indian classics including the scriptures (the Veda) and laid the foundations for comparative philology.’
    • ‘The German-inspired academic study of philology was coming into fashion and influenced language observation methods in Africa.’
    • ‘In philology a hapax legomenon is almost always a word and is a problem because a single usage doesn't generally give us enough information to figure out what it means.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Probably, during these years, he began studying the philology of the Polish language at Warsaw University.’
    • ‘Rhys's linguistic speculations may now be largely out-dated, but the Lectures on Welsh Philology helped put the study of philology, in particular the philology of the Welsh language, on a secure academic basis.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Poetry and its handmaidens, philology, the study of language history, of grammar, all of those disciplines are the great disciplines of that culture at that period of time in particular.’
    • ‘Jones argued that one could compare cognate terms and infer a historical relationship between languages and this has become the foundation of modern philology.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1North American Literary or classical scholarship.
      • ‘In literary studies that position texts in the context of intellectual history,, we find a large body of work that extends the long line of cultural criticism that has its roots in philology and history-of-ideas scholarship.’
      • ‘One principle of editing arises from the rich tradition of textual criticism in philology.’
      • ‘As a student of Latin, Greek and Hebrew grammar and philology, Calvin would have known that it is very difficult to understand any given text with clarity, and would have doubted our ability to ascertain the truth with certainty.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’


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).