Abstract : What do we mean by “anthropology” ? We can find the answer in dictionaries and encyclopaedias. This first text compares five definitions, presents their similarities and differences. All of them distinguish two connotations of the term : the palaeontological approach which tries to place man within the animal chain on the one hand, and the process of human socialization and civilization on the other. Any differences depend on how we interpret these two alternatives and their meaning by extension. Finally, the result of these variations is set out in a semantic field, supplemented by quotations, proverbs, analogies and expressions from five other dictionaries.