Etymology of Psychology

According to most dictionaries, psychology is the scientific study of the human mind.

Psychology deals with mental behaviors and processes as well as emotional characteristics.

Things like consciousness, perception and intelligence are studied in the field of psychology.

It is a science that also aims to understand group dynamics (not just individuals).

Usually, Wilhelm Wundt is considered to be the father of psychology.


Psychology comes from the Modern Latin psychologia and psychologiae.

Logia means study of; the Latin psyche and the Greek psykhe mean spirit, mind or soul.

Phus psychology literally means the study of the soul.

It’s not exactly known when the word was first invented.

From my research it seems to be that the mid-sixteenth-century is the place where the word psychology first appeared, but expect etymologists to confirm that this date is wrong sometime in the next few decades.

Psychology in Different Languages

Psychology in Spanish is psicología; in Portuguese it’s psicologia; Dutch: psychologie; Turkish: psikoloji; Italian: psicologia; French: psychologie; Swedish: psykologi. In Slovak: psychológia; in Russian: психоло́гия (which reads as psixológija), in Finnish: psykologia.


Barnhart, Robert K., ed., Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology, H.W. Wilson Co., 1988.

Lewis, Charlton T., Elementary Latin Dictionary, Oxford, 1890.

Liddell, Henry George, and Robert Scott, eds., Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, Oxford Univ. Press, 1883.