Definition of etiology in English:


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

    ‘a group of distinct diseases with different etiologies’
    • ‘a disease of unknown etiology’
    • ‘The term ‘chronic liver disease’ encompasses a large number of conditions having different etiologies and existing on a continuum between hepatitis infection and cirrhosis.’
    • ‘Infectious origins are suspected for many human diseases of unknown etiology, on the basis of epidemiologic and clinical features.’
    • ‘DNA samples from 195 children with chronic lung disease of unknown etiology were analyzed.’
    • ‘Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating, chronic multisystem disease with an unknown etiology.’
    • ‘In most cases, the underlying etiology is atherosclerotic disease of the arteries.’
    • ‘She presented one year ago with fever, weakness, hepatitis and pneumonitis of unknown etiology.’
    • ‘The exact etiology of osteoarthritis is unknown.’
    • ‘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.
      ‘After her retirement, she took up the challenge to understand the etiology of bipolar disorder.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Researchers study etiology in order to develop more effective approaches to treatment and, ultimately, prevention.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Study findings have sparked research on the etiology of acute salpingitis, new approaches to treatment, and the immunopathogenesis of C. trachomatis infection in women.’
      • ‘Further research regarding the etiology, natural history, pathophysiology, and treatment of subclinical hyperthyroidism is warranted.’
      • ‘The etiology, natural history, and optimal treatment of respiratory failure have been the subject of active investigation for over 100 years.’
  • 2The investigation or attribution of the cause or reason for something, often expressed in terms of historical or mythical explanation.

    ‘We must assess individual tolerances for maltreatment, etiologies and reasons for enduring perpetration of abuse.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Whatever the etiology of this success for Harvard University Press, Hardt and Negri have evidently hit upon what people want to hear.’



/ˌēdēˈäləjē/ /ˌidiˈɑlədʒi/


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