I wanted to ask about the exact meaning of pathology. Is it just for disease or can we use it for other things? I mean, for example, if I want to talk about the determination of harms in culture or technology, can I use the term "technology pathology" or "culture pathology"?

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    There is considerable freedom in English to employ any words metaphorically, where appropriate. What I do find problematical about your question is the way you employ the verb use in the title. Use is a transitive verb, and in this context the passive is required. Is the word pathology used only for disease?.
    – WS2
    May 12, 2016 at 6:28
  • Thank you so much for your answer and also for noticing me that ridiculous mistake about use ! About my question? So you believe that I can use the "technology pathology ? Or you might suggest a better phrase ?
    – amin
    May 12, 2016 at 7:01
  • I see @WS2 has already pointed that the title in your question is ungrammatical. Maybe you were thinking the construct: “Does the word ‘pathology’ mean only disease?” would be the same for the verb "use". As a second alternative, you could modify the question title to Do English speaking people use the word "pathology" only for diseases?
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 12, 2016 at 7:01
  • To communicate directly with a user you have to use @username, see my comment above.
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 12, 2016 at 7:03
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    To avoid possible misunderstandings you may refer to " the pathological aspects of technology". The following extrac may help: Pathological Technology Addictions: What Is Scientifically Known and What Remains to Be Learned. oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/…
    – user66974
    May 12, 2016 at 7:08

2 Answers 2


With reference to "non physical diseases" the term pathology has been used from the mid 19th century:


  • Pathology is the medical term for the way a disease works. A tumor is removed by a doctor trained in surgery, but you need a doctor trained in pathology to tell you if the tumor is cancer.

  • Pathology derives from the Greek pathos "suffering" and ology "study of"––to give us "the study of disease," but often pathology means the disease's behavior––the cancer pathology is to take over healthy cells and grow cancerous tumors. We also use pathology to describe abnormal conditions that aren’t really diseases, like the pathology of Hollywood stars who live their lives in public and become obsessed with fitness.



  • "science of diseases," 1610s, from French pathologie (16c.). In reference to the study of abnormal mental conditions from 1842. Ancient Greek pathologia was "study of the passions;".


  • Passion became suffering in modern Greek?
    – Mazura
    May 12, 2016 at 9:30

Depending on context, "pathological" might be a better fit, but sure, pathology is applied in the soft sciences too:

family pathology


post-colonial pathology


economic pathology


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