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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from anthropology

anthropological \ ˌan(t)-​thrə-​pə-​ˈlä-​ji-​kəl How to pronounce anthropology (audio) \ adjective
anthropologically \ ˌan(t)-​thrə-​pə-​ˈlä-​ji-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce anthropology (audio) \ adverb
anthropologist \ ˌan(t)-​thrə-​ˈpä-​lə-​jist How to pronounce anthropology (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 Several displays list the Algonquin names of plants beside the English interpretations, according to Martin Gallivan, an anthropology professor at William & Mary who helped in the design. Washington Post, 10 July 2021 Several displays list the Algonquin names of plants beside the English interpretations, according to Martin Gallivan, an anthropology professor at William & Mary who helped in the design. BostonGlobe.com, 10 July 2021 Locke based his entire approach to politics on an anthropology — a view of human nature — that drew its authority from the Bible, a book that most colonial Americans revered. Joseph Loconte, National Review, 4 July 2021 But in recent years, Medina noted that there have been efforts to pursue change, and to always recognize the university as an Ohlone place, including from UC Berkeley anthropology professor Kent Lightfoot and a few others. Janelle Bitker, San Francisco Chronicle, 10 June 2021 These events will be happening as Jackson this summer finishes up their University of Chicago degree, a double major in anthropology and comparative race and ethnic studies. Steve Johnson, chicagotribune.com, 21 May 2021 Not only that, but the more intensively used or developed a site was, the more edible plants the team discovered, according to anthropology professor Brian Codding, who heads the U.’s Archaeological Center. Brian Maffly, The Salt Lake Tribune, 17 May 2021 But as Naomi Schiller, an anthropology professor and local resident and one of the group’s founders, quickly saw, the residents were sometimes yelling at one another, too. Keith Gessen, Curbed, 10 May 2021 The park’s baboon troops have been under scientific scrutiny for 50 years, says Jenny Tung, the study’s lead author and a professor of evolutionary anthropology and biology at Duke University. Susan Pinker, WSJ, 6 May 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About anthropology

Time Traveler for anthropology

Time Traveler

The first known use of anthropology was in 1593

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near anthropology

anthropolith

anthropology

anthropomancy

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for anthropology

Last Updated

26 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Anthropology.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anthropology. Accessed 1 Aug. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

More from Merriam-Webster on anthropology

Nglish: Translation of anthropology for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about anthropology

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!