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From Ancient Greek τέλος (télos, purpose), genitive τέλεος (téleos), and λόγος (lógos, word, speech, discourse).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˌtiː.liˈɒ.lə.dʒi/
  • (file)


teleology (countable and uncountable, plural teleologies)

  1. (philosophy) The study of the purpose or design of natural occurrences.
  2. (by extension) An instance of such a design or purpose, usually in natural phenomena.
    • 2011, Paul A. Rahe, Truths You Cannot Utter:
      In short, what every student of biology knows – that within nature there is a teleology having to do with the survival of the species which underpins the distinction between the two sexes and produces between them a natural affinity for one another – no surgeon who knows what is good for him may now say.
  3. The use of a purpose or design rather than the laws of nature to explain an occurrence.

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