: exhibiting or relating to design or purpose especially in nature
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.
At dinner, Sandra and Miguel debated whether or not the complex structure of the human eye implied a teleological origin.
"There is also something of a teleological aspect to all this urbanization hoopla, one that suggests that man was put on this planet to shop at Whole Foods." - Lionel Beehner, USA Today, February 25, 2014
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
What other tele- adjective entered English in the 18th century, is derived from an apparatus for communication, and can mean "concise, terse"? The answer is …
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