tel·​e·​o·​log·​i·​cal | \ ˌte-lē-ə-ˈlä-ji-kəl How to pronounce teleological (audio) , ˌtē-\
variants: or less commonly teleologic \ ˌte-​lē-​ə-​ˈlä-​jik How to pronounce teleologic (audio) , ˌtē-​ \

Definition of teleological

: exhibiting or relating to design or purpose especially in nature

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from teleological

teleologically \ ˌte-​lē-​ə-​ˈlä-​ji-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce teleologically (audio) , ˌtē-​ \ adverb

Did You Know?

Teleological (which comes to us by way of New Latin from the Greek root tele-, telos, meaning "end or purpose") and its close relative teleology both entered English in the 18th century, followed by teleologist in the 19th century. Teleology has the basic meaning of "the study of ends or purposes." A teleologist attempts to understand the purpose of something by looking at its results. A teleological philosopher might argue that we should judge whether an act is good or bad by seeing if it produces a good or bad result, and a teleological explanation of evolutionary changes claims that all such changes occur for a definite purpose.

Examples of teleological in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

That is, to be less deontological (rights-based in their advocacy) and more teleological (ends-based). George Will, National Review, "Bikini-Clad Baristas Serve Up a Lesson in Free Speech," 4 Oct. 2017 Its underlying, often unarticulated, faith in some kind of immanent teleological law of progress is still apparently impervious to empirical falsification by actual historical events. M. D. Aeschliman, National Review, "The Restoration of the Person and the Uses of Memory," 7 Oct. 2017 Such teleological smugness (to which Barack Obama was likewise prone) doesn’t just attract the ire of conservatives; liberals can get miffed, too. T.a. Frank, The Hive, "Can Hillary Clinton Please Go Quietly into the Night?," 9 June 2017 Parenting is teleological; parents rear a child to become an adult. Melanie Thernstrom, New York Times, "When Do You Give Up on Treating a Child With Cancer?," 12 May 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'teleological.' 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 teleological

1797, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about teleological

Listen to Our Podcast about teleological

Statistics for teleological

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for teleological

The first known use of teleological was in 1797

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for teleological


te·​le·​o·​log·​i·​cal | \ ˌtel-ē-ə-ˈläj-i-kəl How to pronounce teleological (audio) , ˌtēl- How to pronounce teleological (audio) \
variants: also teleologic \ -​ˈläj-​ik How to pronounce teleologic (audio) \

Medical Definition of teleological

: exhibiting or relating to design or purpose especially in nature

Other Words from teleological

teleologically \ -​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce teleologically (audio) \ adverb

Comments on teleological

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


showing great care, attention, and effort

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Syn City

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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