etymology - Meaning of '-onomy', '-ology' and '-ography'

  • alexlo

    I have always wondered about the similarity of the two words

    Astronomy and Astrology

    that describe two very different things but have their beginning in common and are sometimes confused in everyday language. The linguistic difference (if one can say so) between them is only in the endings '-onomy' and '-ology'. Two further examples are

    Topology and Topography

    Geology and Geography

    where now we have the endings '-ology' and '-ography'.

    • What are the meanings of the different endings '-onomy', '-ology' and '-ography' ?

    • I would also be curious about whether it is a coincidence that '-ology' appears in all the examples above? Does it maybe have historical reasons?

    • And furthermore, are there more such pairs to be found? (I can't think of any others)

  • Answers
  • Snubian

    The suffix -logy means a branch of learning, or study of a particular subject.

    The suffix -nomy means a system of rules or laws, or body of knowledge of a particular subject.

    These two are often intertwined as you might expect.

    (Note that -ology and -onomy are alternate forms which include the connecting vowel -o-.)

    The suffix -graphy refers to something written about a particular subject.

    It's no coincidence that -logy- appears to be so common, as it refers to a wide variety of branches of study.

    Another familiar suffix is -metry which refers to measurement, e.g. geometry, to continue your geo- theme.

  • Related Question

    meaning - How does 'give it up for ...' mean 'clap for ...'?
  • Lazer

    Well, now I understand that this is so, but the first few times I heard this, I had no idea what 'giving it up' meant.

    What is the derivation? How do you get from 'giving it up' to 'clapping'?

  • Related Answers
  • dekpos

    From PhraseFinder:

    Reference 1:

    First use ... was by Arsenio Hall, who made it into a bit of a catch phrase on his television show that began in January 1987. There may be earlier usages.

    ... Arsenio was the first to use the catchphrase in a widely seen television show; but a great many people would have heard him use it before then, ..., about 1980 ..., when he was on tour with Gladys Knight. It simply means "Don't hold anything back," and he showed by gesture that he meant applause.

    Reference 2:

    Give it up -- let yourself go. Mainstream 1960s. "Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang" by Tom Dalzell (Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, Md., 1996) Flappers 2 Rappers says in mid-1970s it became a Hip-Hop and Rap term meaning "to express greeting, to applaud."

    Reference 3:

    Marvin Gaye, 1977, Got to Give it Up. Lyrics at

    "giving it up" means "to applaud". "clapping" is a form of applause. Hence, "giving it up" for someone can mean clapping for him / her.

  • LessPop_MoreFizz

    Quite simply, the 'it' in question is Applause. Audiences who do not applaud are often referred to as 'stingy' or withholding of their applause, so when asked to 'give it up' for a performer, they are being asked to provide their applause - i.e. to clap.

  • Mahnax

    On the live album "Waiting for Columbus" by Little Feat (recorded August 1977), the emcee begins the record by urging the audience to "give it up for Little Feat."