anthropology

noun
an·​thro·​pol·​o·​gy | \ ˌan(t)-thrə-ˈpä-lə-jē How to pronounce anthropology (audio) \

Definition of anthropology

1 : the science of human beings especially : the study of human beings and their ancestors through time and space and in relation to physical character, environmental and social relations, and culture
2 : theology dealing with the origin, nature, and destiny of human beings

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Other Words from anthropology

anthropological \ ˌan(t)-​thrə-​pə-​ˈlä-​ji-​kəl How to pronounce anthropological (audio) \ adjective
anthropologically \ ˌan(t)-​thrə-​pə-​ˈlä-​ji-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce anthropologically (audio) \ adverb
anthropologist \ ˌan(t)-​thrə-​ˈpä-​lə-​jist How to pronounce anthropologist (audio) \ noun

The Origin of Anthropology

The word anthropology dates back to the late 16th century, but it was not until the 19th century that it was applied to the academic discipline that now bears its name. In the United States, this field of study is typically divided into four distinct branches: physical (or biological) anthropology, archaeology, cultural (or social) anthropology, and linguistic anthropology.

Anthropology is from the New Latin word anthropologia (“the study of humanity”) and shares its ultimate root in Greek, anthrōpos (“human being”), with a number of other words in English, such as anthropomorphize, philanthropy, and misanthrope.

Examples of anthropology in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

For Iain McKechnie, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Victoria and the other co-director of the Kakmakimiłh field school, the geoduck shell is more than just an exciting piece of the past. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "This Centuries-Old Geoduck Shell May Rewrite the Rules About Who Can Harvest the Fancy Clam," 27 Aug. 2019 Father Gabriele Bortolami, an Italian priest and professor of anthropology, poured libations onto the floor in honor of the ancestors. USA Today, "Were Wanda Tucker’s ancestors America’s first slaves? A difficult search for answers in far-away Angola," 22 Aug. 2019 But there were also changes within the field of anthropology itself. Louis Menand, The New Yorker, "How Cultural Anthropologists Redefined Humanity," 19 Aug. 2019 These projects have plenty of skeptics, among them John W. Hoopes, a professor of anthropology at the University of Kansas who spent years studying the myth that the world would end in 2012. Julie Turkewitz, New York Times, "A Boom Time for the Bunker Business and Doomsday Capitalists," 13 Aug. 2019 In the new horror film Midsommar, William Jackson Harper plays an anthropology student named Josh, one of several Americans who visit a remote — and increasingly ominous — commune in Sweden. Clark Collis, EW.com, "Midsommar star says his Good Place character would have 'gotten the f— out of there'," 3 July 2019 Earlier this year, the city began an earnest, multiyear collaboration with the La Mesa Historical Society and faculty and students from the anthropology and history departments at San Diego State University to update the list. Karen Pearlman, San Diego Union-Tribune, "La Mesa taking another look at historical buildings," 12 Sep. 2019 Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft, a writer and historian and MIT visiting scholar in anthropology, spent five years researching and delving into these questions, and more. BostonGlobe.com, "The author of ‘Meat Planet’ is coming to Cambridge - The Boston Globe," 10 Sep. 2019 The organizations share research in archaeology, anthropology and history to save wreck sites, reconstruct disrupted cultural heritage and connect communities to their past. Chris Searles, National Geographic, "Most slave shipwrecks have been overlooked—until now," 23 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'anthropology.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of anthropology

1593, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for anthropology

borrowed from New Latin anthropologia "study of humanity, science of human nature," from anthropo- anthropo- + -logia -logy

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Statistics for anthropology

Last Updated

4 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for anthropology

The first known use of anthropology was in 1593

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More Definitions for anthropology

anthropology

noun

English Language Learners Definition of anthropology

: the study of human races, origins, societies, and cultures

anthropology

noun
an·​thro·​pol·​o·​gy | \ ˌan-thrə-ˈpä-lə-jē How to pronounce anthropology (audio) \

Kids Definition of anthropology

: a science that studies people and especially their history, development, distribution and culture

anthropology

noun
an·​thro·​pol·​o·​gy | \ ˌan(t)-thrə-ˈpäl-ə-jē How to pronounce anthropology (audio) \
plural anthropologies

Medical Definition of anthropology

: the science of humans especially : the study of humans in relation to distribution, origin, classification, and relationship of races, physical character, environmental and social relations, and culture

Other Words from anthropology

anthropological \ -​pə-​ˈläj-​i-​kəl How to pronounce anthropological (audio) \ adjective
anthropologically \ -​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce anthropologically (audio) \ adverb
anthropologist \ ˌan(t)-​thrə-​ˈpäl-​ə-​jəst How to pronounce anthropologist (audio) \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on anthropology

Spanish Central: Translation of anthropology

Nglish: Translation of anthropology for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about anthropology

Comments on anthropology

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