from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The biological study of birth defects.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Narration of what is marvelous or prodigious; exaggeration in description.
  • noun In anat., zoöl., and botany, the science of animal or vegetable monstrosities; that department of biology which treats of malformations, or monstrous or abnormal growths, in the animal or the vegetable kingdom.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun That branch of biological science which treats of monstrosities, malformations, or deviations from the normal type of structure, either in plants or animals.
  • noun obsolete Affectation of sublimity; bombast.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun medicine The study of teratogenesis, congenital malformations or grossly deformed individuals.
  • noun toxicology The study of the mechanisms, teratogenic agents, or teratogens, in bringing about malformations.
  • noun obsolete Affectation of sublimity; bombast.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the branch of biology concerned with the development of malformations or serious deviations from the normal type of organism


Sorry, no etymologies found.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word teratology.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • There's a wonderful museum in Philadelphia called the Mütter Museum that specializes in this subject.

    May 13, 2008

  • Yes! Thanks, whichbe. I've linked to it a couple of times here on Wordie, but I can't remember where at the moment.

    May 13, 2008

  • So a series of four novels featuring monster-like characters with congenital abnormalities would be a teratology tetralogy?

    December 11, 2008

  • (noun) - (1) Affectation of false sublimity.

    --Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, 1755

    (2) Teratology is when bold writers, fond of the sublime, intermix something great and prodigious in everything they write, whether there be foundation for it in reason or not, that this is call'd bombast.

    --Nathaniel Bailey's Etymological English Dictionary, 1727

    (3) A discourse of prodigies and wonders.

    --Edward Phillips' New World of English Words, 1678

    (4) A marvellous tale, or collection of such tales.

    --Sir James Murray's New English Dictionary, 1919

    January 19, 2018