from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The science that deals with the promotion and preservation of health. Also called hygienics.
  • n. Conditions and practices that serve to promote or preserve health: hygiene in the workplace; personal hygiene.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The science of health, its promotion and preservation.
  • n. Those conditions and practices that promote and preserve health.
  • n. Cleanliness, in the context of personal hygiene.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That department of sanitary science which treats of the preservation of health, esp. of households and communities; a system of principles or rules designated for the promotion of health.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. That department of medical knowledge which concerns the preservation of health; a system of principles or rules designed for the promotion of health; sanitary science.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a condition promoting sanitary practices
  • n. the science concerned with the prevention of illness and maintenance of health


French hygiène and New Latin hygieina, both from Greek hugieinē (tekhnē), (art) of health, feminine of hugiēs, healthy; see gwei- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French hygiène, from Ancient Greek ὑγιαίνω (hugiainō, "be healthy, sound"), from ὑγιής (hugies, "healthy, sound"). (Wiktionary)



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  • Related to bio-, zo- "life" and thus to English quick, Latin viv-, vit-. The labiovelar *gw usually became b but in *su-gwih3- "well-life" the adjacent u delabialized it to g instead. (And zo- is apparently a different dialectal development, *gwj > *gj > *dz > zd. I didn't know that either.)

    January 16, 2009