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Spoons, probably made of pewter, used to measure doses of medicine, from the collection of the Wellcome Library in London, UK


From Ancient Greek πόσος (pósos, how much?) +‎ -ology (suffix indicating a branch of learning).



posology (usually uncountable, plural posologies)

  1. (countable, uncountable, pharmacy, pharmacology) The study of the dosages of drugs, especially the determination of appropriate dosages. [from 19th c.]
    • 1820 April, E. Milligan, “On the Doses of the Ancient Physicians”, in The Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal: Exhibiting a Concise View of the Latest and Most Discoveries in Medicine, Surgery, and Pharmacy, volume XVI, number LXIII, Edinburgh: Printed by George Ramsay & Company, for Archibald Constable and Company, Edinburgh; Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, & Brown, London; and John Cumming, Dublin, OCLC 476511450, page 186:
      The difficulty here alluded to occurs in the doses of medicine exhibited by the ancient physicians. These have long been observed to be very large; and it was on remarking the impossibility, according to our ideas, of exhibiting them with safety to human life, or even of escaping destruction under their influence, that my observation was first drawn to the subject of ancient posology.
    • 2000, L. D. Kapoor, “Introduction”, in Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants (Herbal Reference Library), Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, →ISBN, page 1:
      Dr. Wise [] mentions two systems of Hindu surgery and nine systems of medicine, three of materia medica, one of posology, one of pharmacy, and three of metallic preparations alone. From these one can gather the strength and dimensions of the scientific knowledge of ancient India regarding therapeutic agents of both organic and inorganic origin.
    • 2002, Elaine Elisabetsky, “Traditional Medicines and the New Paradigm of Psychotropic Drug Action”, in Maurice M[maduakolam] Iwu and Jacqueline C. Wootton, editors, Ethnomedicine and Drug Discovery (Advances in Phytomedicine; 1), Amsterdam: Elsevier Science, →ISBN, page 136:
      Posology is usually well defined by medicinal plant specialists. Traditional formulations of medicinal plants processed for therapeutic uses (such as teas, syrups, concoctions, beverages, etc.) are expected to be ingested over a given period of time, varying with the expected length of the condition to be treated, and the time required for the remedy to attain its curative goal.
    • 2012, Y. Grosgogeat, “Cerebral Ischemic Accidents of Cardiac Origin”, in Jacques Bories, editor, Cerebral Ischaemia: A Neuroradiological Study (Neuroradiology; volume 27, number 6), Berlin: Springer-Verlag, DOI:10.1007/978-3-642-70943-2, →ISBN, page 130:
      The posologies employed require careful clinical and electrical supervision, and the same anticoagulant measures as for electrical cardioversion are necessary.
  2. (uncountable, mathematics, historical, rare) In the works of English philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832): the study of quantity; mathematics.
    • 1816, Jeremy Bentham, “Nomenclature of the Main Branches of Art and Science—Its Imperfections—with Proposed Remedies.—Systematic Table, Prefixed by D'Alembert to the French Encyclopedia—Its Imperfections—Specimen of a New One”, in Chrestomathia: Being a Collection of Papers, Explanatory of the Design of an Institution, Proposed to be Set on Foot, under the Name of the Chrestomathic Day School, or Chrestomathic School, for the Extension of the New System of Instruction to the Higher Branches of Learning, for the Use of the Middling and Higher Ranks in Life, London: Printed for Messrs. Payne and Foss, Pall-Mall; and R. Hunter, St. Paul's Church-yard; by J. M‘Creery, Black-Horse-Court, Fleet-Street, OCLC 65246075, pages 253 and 254:
      [page 253] [T]he branch of art and science therein denominated Posology, but commonly called Mathematics. [] [page 254] Of the two minor aggregates, into which, by this means, the major aggregate, Posology or Mathematics, was divided,—form-regarding, or figure-regarding Posology or Mathematics, in Greek-sprung language, Morphoscopic Posology, was the name given to the positive minor aggregate: []

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