I have heard this word, but I just can't remember it. It is a 3 to 5 letter word, probably 2 syllabled, and begins with letter T.

I am not totally sure if it's an English word. The context I have heard it in "whether there is a greater purpose of life." Or something like "Does the universe have 'a greater purpose'." It was in one of the videos of a YouTube channel called exurb1a (I am not telling you to look through all of his videos to find the word, although it is an interesting channel).

Sorry if the question is not exactly a single word request, because it's more like a word identification request but such tag doesn't exist :D.

  • 3
    I think the word you’re looking for is teleology, though it’s more than 5 letters and more than 2 syllables and does not precisely mean “greater purpose”. But it does start with a T and is commonly invoked in philosophical explorations of an “ends-seeking” nature to the universe. It comes from the Greek teleos (lit. ends, metaphor. purpose) and logos (word / study of).
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 13:31
  • 1
    Close enough! I was looking for telos which is infact where the the word teleology originates from. Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 13:36
  • Yep, I mentioned that in my final sentence ;) But telos is not an English word (which you wanted was a risk in your Q), and here on EL&U we’re restricted to offering answers from the lexicon of English.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 13:37
  • Well, I just looked it up and found it here: en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/telos. Perhaps another word that English adopts as it is haha. Anyway, i think you should make it an answer, because teleology/telos is what I was looking for. Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 13:44
  • well it's not english, and not 5 letters ; but it has a t in it... raison d'être
    – Gary
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 14:35

1 Answer 1


Given that there are no answers to this question, and a comment has more or less already been accepted as the answer, I thought I'd record the answer for posterity with a little further explanation.

Dan Bron's suggestion teleology:

The explanation of phenomena in terms of the purpose they serve rather than of the cause by which they arise. - OLD.

Refers to explaining phenomena in terms of the purpose they serve.

The word is grounded in two other words teleos and telos as explained on Vocabulary.com:

We can trace the origin of teleology to the Greeks: to teleos, meaning "complete," and its root telos, meaning "result." Then we add the suffix -logy, which means "logic," or "reason." The philosophy itself suggests that acts are done with a foregone purpose in mind — people do things knowing the result they wish to achieve. As Aristotle said, "Nature does nothing in vain." So far, there's no teleology to explain why you haven't left the couch for several hours.

Telos can also mean the ultimate object or aim:

An ultimate object or aim.

in the hedonistic life, people lose some moral purpose, a telos which provides the moral justification for the society. - OLD.

And in this instance as asserted by the questioner, was the word that the question attempted to reveal.

  • 1
    good to record the proper answer!
    – lbf
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 15:44

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