Coined by English polymath William Whewell in March 1834 in an anonymous review of Mary Somerville's book On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences in the Quarterly Review as a suggested replacement for,[1] and later seriously introduced by him in 1840[2] as a more precise substitute for, the terms natural philosopher and man of science. Modeled after artist, from the Latin stem scientia (knowledge) +‎ -ist.



scientist (plural scientists)

  1. One whose activities make use of the scientific method to answer questions regarding the measurable universe. A scientist may be involved in original research, or make use of the results of the research of others.
    • 2012 January, Ledoux, Stephen, “Behaviorism at 100”, in American Scientist, volume 100, number 1, United States: Sigma Xi, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 60:
      Becoming more aware of the progress that scientists have made on behavioral fronts can reduce the risk that other natural scientists will resort to mystical agential accounts when they exceed the limits of their own disciplinary training.
    • 2013 June 21, Karen McVeigh, “US rules human genes can't be patented”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 2, →ISSN, page 10:
      The US supreme court has ruled unanimously that natural human genes cannot be patented, a decision that scientists and civil rights campaigners said removed a major barrier to patient care and medical innovation.


See Thesaurus:scientist

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit


  • Cebuano: sayantist, sayantis
  • Malay: saintis
  • Portuguese: cientista


See alsoEdit


  1. ^
    1834, William Whewell, “On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences by Mrs. Somerville”, in John Gibson Lockhart, editor, Quarterly Review, volume 51, London: John Murray, retrieved November 2, 2017, page 59:
    There was no general term by which these gentlemen could describe themselves with reference to their pursuits. Philosophers was felt to be too wide and too lofty a term, and was very properly forbidden them by Mr. Coleridge, both in his capacity of philologer and metaphysician; savans was rather assuming, besides being French instead of English; some ingenious gentleman proposed that, by analogy with artist, they might form scientist, and added that there could be no scruple in making free with this termination when we have such words as sciolist, economist, and atheist — but this was not generally palatable []
  2. ^
    1840, William Whewell, The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences: Founded Upon Their History, Vol. 2, page 560:
    The terminations ize (rather than ise), ism, and ist, are applied to words of all origins: thus we have to pulverize, to colonize, Witticism, Heathenism, Journalist, Tobacconist. Hence we may make such words when they are wanted. As we cannot use physician for a cultivator of physics, I have called him a Physicist. We need very much a name to describe a cultivator of science in general. I should incline to call him a Scientist. Thus we might say, that as an Artist is a Musician, Painter, or Poet, a Scientist is a Mathematician, Physicist, or Naturalist.

Further readingEdit



Borrowed from French scientiste.


scientist m (plural scientiști)

  1. scientist (advocate of scientism)