an·thro·pol·o·gy | \ˌan(t)-thrə-ˈpä-lə-jē \

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 \-pə-ˈlä-ji-kəl \ adjective
anthropologically \-ji-k(ə-)lē \ adverb
anthropologist \ˌan(t)-thrə-ˈpä-lə-jist \ 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

The project is part of the growing field of forensic facial reconstruction, which combines science, art and anthropology to help solve crimes or mass disasters. Julissa Treviño, Smithsonian, "To Help Identify Migrants Who Died Along Border, Art Class Reconstructs Their Faces," 9 Mar. 2018 Biology, sociology, anthropology—that’s not science to them, that’s soft stuff. Tiffany Kelly, Popular Mechanics, "Ursula K. Le Guin Proved That Sci-Fi Is For Everyone," 24 Jan. 2018 Tracy Kivell, a biological anthropology professor at Kent, said the team’s findings could explain why other primates are able to crack nuts without the benefit of a human-like hand. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Did the Human Hand Evolve as a Lean Mean Bone-Smashing Machine?," 13 July 2018 Erin Kimmerle, a University of South Florida anthropology professor who worked with Straley to locate the remains of Dozier boys, said, though, that Straley's mission remains largely unfulfilled. Carol Marbin Miller, miamiherald, "A victim of vile abuse at Florida reform school, he spent his life fighting for justice," 10 July 2018 Many of us felt this honor was long overdue, given his international prominence as a French intellectual whose works had crossed the boundaries of literature, history, psychology, sociology, anthropology and religion. Marilyn Yalom, WSJ, "‘Evolution of Desire’ Review: Who Was René Girard?," 1 June 2018 DiGangi, an assistant professor of anthropology at Binghampton University, also noted that the remains in question did not show injuries consistent with those sustained by Corbin during battle. Cristina Corbin, Fox News, "Where is Margaret Corbin? Hunt on for Revolutionary War hero's grave," 5 July 2018 One of her creations was the Smith Project on Women and Social Change, bringing together faculty members from areas ranging from anthropology to literature and economics. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, "Jill Ker Conway Took on the Old Guard as the First Woman President of Smith College," 8 June 2018 The action also challenges the CIA’s denial of records relating to UCLA anthropology professor Philippe Bourgois, who survived a massacre allegedly led by Ochoa Pérez in 1981 in Santa Cruz, El Salvador. Mike Carter, The Seattle Times, "UW settles suit against CIA over data on Salvadoran Army officer," 30 May 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.

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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

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18 Oct 2018

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The first known use of anthropology was in 1593

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English Language Learners Definition of anthropology

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


an·thro·pol·o·gy | \ˌan-thrə-ˈpä-lə-jē \

Kids Definition of anthropology

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


an·thro·pol·o·gy | \ˌan(t)-thrə-ˈpäl-ə-jē \
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 \ adjective
anthropologically \-i-k(ə-)lē \ adverb
anthropologist \ˌan(t)-thrə-ˈpäl-ə-jəst \ noun

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Spanish Central: Translation of anthropology

Nglish: Translation of anthropology for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about anthropology

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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