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“-Ology-of-ologies”: Chrono and Friends

Terry D. Ott - 2017-06-18, 7:58pm EDT (UTC -0400)


When I first got interested in the Network Time Protocol, I would joke with friends that I was an amateur chronologist.

One friend smiled knowingly at me and said, “I would encourage you to look up the definition of ‘chronology,’ Terry. Suspect you’ll find out you’re misusing that word."

Chrono: time. -logy: the study of something. That should work, right?

Turns out, not quite.

As I care about a time down to a microsecond, clearly accuracy matters to me. That often carries over to my use of English, too.

Time to go find the right word!

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Chronology is the science/study of ascertaining the order that historical dates/events occurred.

Nope, not the word I wanted. So chrono is wrong. I am trying to measure time. After a brief search, I found the prefix for measurement is “metro.”

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Metrology is the science of weights and measures; the study of units of measurement.

Closer, but still too general—I am not talking about measuring anything, can we be more specific and get it to measurement of time?

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After a bit of searching, I found it:

Horology is the science of making timepieces or measuring time.

It comes from the greek word hour, for “season.” While “study of the seasons” isn’t a great direct translation, it’s still the word I was looking for.

As a result of this little research endeavor, instead of calling myself an “amateur chronologist,” I now refer to myself as an “amatueur horologist,” and can now be confident I am not misusing any of the words!

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