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June 28, 2022

Teleological / adjective / tel·​e·​o·​log·​i·​cal

Teleological is an adjective we use in English. It has New Latin and Greek origins. The Greeks originally created the word "teleological" by combining the Greek root word ‘telos' with its current suffix ‘-ology.' The suffix -ology means -"to study" and denotes ‘the study of a branch of knowledge.'

"Telos" is a word that means ‘end or purpose.' The combination of the words telos + –ology resulted in a new definition, "the study of ends or purposes." Today's definition of teleological focuses on studying the ending of cycles in nature and related subjects to find their deeper meaning. Teleologists operate with the belief that we can get a better understanding of most subjects by studying the end results. They believe we should only deem an outcome to be "good" or "bad" based on whether the result is positive or negative.

In a Sentence

Although the school principal was upset by the laboratory explosion, the biology teacher was a teleological scientist who believed the explosion was a good thing.

Teleological philosophers study past results to make predictions about the probability of future events having positive or negative outcomes.

People who live by a teleological code understand that mistakes are often necessary to find better solutions to ongoing problems.


We derived this late 17th-century term from a combination of New Latin and Greek sources. "Teleological" entered the language in 1797 with the same meaning it carries today. It relates to the parent term "teleology" which is the premise of studying the end of problems to find better solutions. "Teleologists" study of endings.


Teleology, Consequentialist


Hereditarianism, Environmentalism


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