Medical Definition of Aetiology

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/4/2018

Aetiology: The study of the causes. For example, of a disorder.

The word "aetiology" is mainly used in medicine, where it is the science that deals with the causes or origin of disease, the factors which produce or predispose toward a certain disease or disorder.

Today in medicine one hears (or reads) that "the aetiology is unknown." Translation -- we don't know the cause.

Aetiology is the preferred spelling in some countries, including the UK, whereas "etiology" without an "a" has taken over in the US. The word "aetiology" comes from the Greek "aitia", cause + "logos", discourse.

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If menopause occurs in a woman younger than ___ years, it is considered to be premature. See Answer

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Reviewed on 12/4/2018