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 \ -​pə-​ˈlä-​ji-​kəl How to pronounce anthropological (audio) \ adjective
anthropologically \ -​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

How the professors became involved Daniel Gladish, a professor of botany, and John Cinnamon, a professor of anthropology, were both suspended after Provost Phyllis Callahan read MUPD's report. Maia Anderson, Cincinnati.com, "The iboga tree affair: A confiscated shrub, hallucinogenics and suspended professors rile Miami University campus," 3 July 2019 There was most likely an African-American cemetery there that predated the society’s ownership, said Roger Sanjek, an anthropology professor emeritus at Queens College. Kaya Laterman, New York Times, "This Empty Lot Is Worth Millions. It’s Also an African-American Burial Ground.," 14 June 2019 Conway, the daughter of Karen Conway, graduated in May with a 4.0 grade point average with a degree in anthropology and a minor in psychology. Michelle Mullins, Naperville Sun, "Naperville People in the News," 11 June 2019 The two massive totem poles from British Columbia, installed in 1968, speak, in a deep, fiercely carved brown, of the museum’s interest in anthropology. Steve Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "With a skeleton and megaplanters, the Field Museum fleshes out its main hall," 26 June 2018 Prince Charles, however, was the first heir to the throne to get a university degree, studying archaeology and anthropology before switching to history at Trinity College Cambridge. Marcia Moody, Town & Country, "Here's What Prince George and Princess Charlotte's Royal Education Will Entail," 26 Aug. 2018 An answer has emerged from an exciting new field of science: forensic anthropology. Mike Fillon, Popular Mechanics, "The Real Face Of Jesus," 23 Jan. 2015 There is significant evidence from evolutionary anthropology and developmental psychology that old and young are built for each other. Marc Freedman, WSJ, "Building Bridges Across the Generational Divide," 1 Nov. 2018 Of all her students, the one who seemed to benefit most from Olivia was a round-faced blond sophomore in college with whom Jackie worked on essays for English, art history, and anthropology. Chicago Tribune, chicagotribune.com, "Algren Award finalist: "Olivia" by Sophia Veltfort," 2 June 2018

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

New Latin anthropologia, from anthrop- + -logia -logy

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about anthropology

Statistics for anthropology

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for anthropology

The first known use of anthropology was in 1593

See more words from the same year

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 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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up anthropology? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

characterized by aphorism

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!