Science Terms | Science Words | Scientific Terminology

In illustrating the scientific world, a number of different words and phrases are used. Some of these phrases are composite science words from different languages, some are acronyms, while still others are words named after scientists themselves. But what exactly are science terms and why are they used? This article will review the definition of science terminology (otherwise known as “science terms”) and give a list of these terms according to their type.

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What Are Science Terms?

Scientific terminology, or science terms, is a language specifically designed for use in scientific fields. This language can consist of different words and terms — ones that represent various concepts, ideas, or physical realities.

For example, biologists use a system of scientific terminology called taxonomic nomenclature to identify species. In common language, for instance, a housecat is known as a “cat” — but in biology, the animal is known as Felis catus.

Taxonomic nomenclature, as a system of scientific terminology, uses italicized, often Greek or Latin words, to represent an animal’s genus (a category consisting of an animal’s close relatives) and species.

Examples of Scientific Words

In the housecat example, the Classical Latin word “Felis” is capitalized and represents the genus, while the Old Latin “catus” is in lower case and represents the species. Biologists use taxonomic nomenclature to clearly define species that have certain traits (i.e. genetics) in common.

Science terms can also consist of acronyms, words made up of the initials of longer phrases. In particle physics, for example, BESS is an acronym for Balloon-borne Experiment with a Superconducting Spectrometer, while in biology DNA stands for Deoxyribonucleic Acid.

Science terms also may reflect something about the innovator, discoverer, or discovery of an object, organism, or idea. For example, the chemical element Darmstadtium (Ds) was named after the German city of Darmstadt, where the element was first discovered.

List of Science Terms

Examples of Taxonomic Nomenclature (Biology)


  • Panthera leo – Lion
  • Panthera tigris – Tiger
  • Antilocapra americana – Prognhorn Antelope
  • Mellisuga helenae – Bee Hummingbird
  • Equus ferus – Wild Horse
  • Coccinella septempunctata – Seven-spot ladybug
  • Bos taurus – Cattle
  • Heloderma suspectum Gila Monster
  • Ursus maritimus – Polar Bear
  • Enteroctopus dofleini – Giant Pacific Octopus


  • Carnegia gigantea – Saguaro Cactus
  • Rosa californica – California Wildrose
  • Cocos nucifera – Coconut Palm Tree
  • Quercus alba – White Oak Tree

Examples of Acronymic Scientific Terms (Various Fields)

  • LASER – Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (Physics)
  • CT – Computer Tomography (Medicine)
  • DOT – Directly Observed Therapy (Biomedical Research)
  • AABW – Antarctic Bottom Water (Meteorology)
  • RNA – Ribonucleic acid (Biology and Medicine)
  • POEM – Polar Orbiting Earth Mission (Astronomy)
  • DSDP – Deep Sea Drilling Project (Geology)

Examples of Scientific Terms Named After Different Scientists (Various Fields)

  • Gardner Transition – a condensed matter physics transition named after theoretical physicist Elizabeth Gardner (Theoretical Physics)
  • Noether’s Theorem – a mathematical theorem named after mathematician Amalie Emmy Noether (Theoretical Physics)
  • Einsteinium – or Es, an element named after physicist Albert Einstein (Chemistry)
  • Darwinhydrus solidus – a beetle named after biologist Charles Darwin (Biology)