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From pseph- (pebble) +‎ -o- +‎ -logy (study of), drawing on the various definitions of Ancient Greek ψῆφος (psêphos, pebble used for reckoning; pebble used for casting a vote). The sense relating to elections was coined in 1948 by Frank Hardie.


  • IPA(key): /siˈfɑl.ə.d͡ʒi/


psephology (uncountable)

  1. The predictive or statistical study of elections. [From 1952]
    • 1952, D. E. Butler, The British general election of 1951:
      It therefore seems appropriate to preface this book with a discussion of why elections merit study and an examination of how much has been or can be learnt from psephology.
  2. An ancient Greek method of numerology, similar to gematria.
    • 1917, The Quest - Volume 8, Part 2, page 698:
      Let us first see how the matter of this letter-numbering or psephology stands generally. The authors think that both the Greek and Hebrew method derive from a common source. But there is no proof of this; indeed the weak point in the whole of this exposition is that they entirely neglect the historical side of the matter and give no references.
    • 1924, George Robert Stow Mead, Gnostic John the Baptizer: Selections from the Mandæan John-Book, Together with Studies on John and Christian Origins, the Slavonic Josephus' Account of John and Jesus and the Fourth Gospel Proem, →ISBN:
      The numbers 99, 88, and 22 seem to belong to some system of mystic psephology, Or gematria as the Kabbalists afterwards called it.
    • 2013, Andrew Gregory, The Presocratics and the Supernatural, →ISBN:
      What I want to point out here is that there is a considerable breadth of numerological practices, ranging from psephology/gematria through to practices close to mathematical physics which are deemed to be too much driven by mathematical or aesthetic considerations.

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