Here’s an old word we need to put a farmgirl spin on: oikology

I know what you’re thinking. No, it’s not the science of pigs—that would be oinkology!

Here’s a hint … “oikos” means “house” in Greek.


Again, I know what you’re thinking. That I’ve gone off my rocker. Not so …

Oikology (n): the study or science of housekeeping.

Yep, that’s right, girls. It’s a science.

Wait a sec … a science?

Well, let’s see. Wikipedia says that a science is “a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions.”

Yep. It’s a science, alright.

Of course, no one had to tell us that, did they?! How anyone could imagine it to be anything less is a mystery to me. Still, who came up with this?

According to an article from the New York Times in July of 1895, we have Mrs. Ellen T. Richards, Mrs. M.B. Tobey, and Miss Marion Talbot to thank for “throwing a searchlight upon the conditions of daily living” and giving us this fine little word.

They were definitely farmgirls.

Ellen, Marion, and M.B., practical 19th century gals that they were, wrote and taught other women about sanitation and hygiene, diet, entertaining, the downside of dust, and bacteriology.

Bacterio-what?! Gee, they sure liked their ologies back then.

Speaking of “back then” … I think we all know what the Times writer meant when he wrote that it was “eminently proper that women should direct their energies toward these subjects.” (Did that guy put the “oy!” in oikology, or what!?)

What seems eminently evident to me is that wherever women direct their energies, important things get done. Like taking care of our homes, our health, our families, and ourselves.

Call it oikology … or just call it living the good life.

  1. Debra Davis says:

    And, the word “ecology” comes from the same root–the study of house/home, as in Planet Earth. All those interconnected niches and relationships…a lovely metaphor.

    Thanks for the nifty tidbit!

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I am finally glad to hear that there is actually a scientific acknowledgement for what I have been doing the past 33 years!!! Nothing like validation to make this Farmgirl push onward!

    Winnie # 3109

  3. drMolly says:

    Debra, what an interesting thought. Thanks for contributing that.

    Thanks MJ for the information.

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