pse·​phol·​o·​gy sē-ˈfä-lə-jē How to pronounce psephology (audio)
: the scientific study of elections
psephological adjective
psephologist noun

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Psephology is from the Greek word psēphos, meaning "pebble." (One relative of psephology is psephomancy, meaning "divination by pebbles.") Psephology merited election as the name for the work of analysts of elections, or psephologists, because pebbles were used by the ancient Greeks in voting. Similarly, the word ballot was an excellent choice for a means of voting since it is derived from balla, the Italian word for "ball," and Italians placed balls in a container to cast votes.

Examples of psephology in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Jill Lepore on election predictions then and now; Blinkist and Ghislaine Maxwell; Black votes in Florida; Wisconsin’s cookie psephology; Shepard Smith’s new gig. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2021 In fact, people who have been in psephology for 50 years have never seen a party come from the mid-20s to the high 30s in a space of three weeks. Sarah Jaffe, New Republic, 5 June 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'psephology.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Greek psēphos pebble, ballot, vote; from the use of pebbles by the ancient Greeks in voting

First Known Use

1952, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of psephology was in 1952


Dictionary Entries Near psephology

Cite this Entry

“Psephology.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

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