"Structure and function" is a fairly common pairing of words used in structural biology; is there some word that means the same as the both?

I've taken to using "anatomy and physiology"—"structure and function" applied to the macroscopic—but I feel that it requires some poetic license.


2 Answers 2


I'm not a biologist, but it seems to me structure and function/anatomy and physiology covers more or less everything in the field.

Here are over 8000 instances in Google Books for "the biology of the ear", and over 45,000 for "the biology of the liver". I'd be pretty sure they're all about the structure/function of those organs.

TL;DR: "anatomy and physiology" is biology.

  • Perhaps "physics" for me, as I'm using "structure and function" from a relatively cold, sterile viewpoint
    – Nick T
    Jan 2, 2012 at 21:10
  • On the contrary, structure and function are built on the base of physics.
    – Gangnus
    Jan 2, 2012 at 21:23
  • @Nick T: Well, I'm not a physicist either, but I must admit the physics of [some organ/organism] more strongly suggests just the physical structure. And outside the realm of biology, I'd probably classify the "function" of anything inanimate as metaphysics. In general I think "function" implies "purpose", which doesn't mean much without living things, but physics is the study of what reality actually is, rather than why it is so. Jan 2, 2012 at 21:33
  • @FumbleFingers I'm actually trying to get away from a "purpose" suggestion as I'm referring to purely the mechanism.
    – Nick T
    Jan 2, 2012 at 23:40
  • @Nick T: I'd have thought anatomy and physiology would fit the bill if you don't fancy just biology. But if you want a really rare word that should still be comprehensible on first encounter to most people working in the field, jwpat7's physiomorphology should do you. Jan 2, 2012 at 23:53

IMHO, structure and function means everything except unorganized matter and energy. That makes the informational side/part of an item as opposet to the material one. And of course, any synonyms could be used - information, organization, system ... I think, it is rather filosophical question. (of course, English too)

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