no·​men·​cla·​ture | \ ˈnō-mən-ˌklā-chər also nō-ˈmen-klə-ˌchu̇r How to pronounce nomenclature (audio) , -ˈmeŋ-, -chər, -ˌtyu̇r, -ˌtu̇r\

Definition of nomenclature

1 : name, designation … the changing nomenclature of her streets is even more baffling …— Cornelia O. Skinner
2 : the act or process or an instance of naming nomenclature … is at its simplest the task of assigning a name to each distinct species— R. I. Smith
3a : a system or set of terms or symbols especially in a particular science, discipline, or art the nomenclature of inorganic chemistry
b : an international system of standardized New Latin names used in biology for kinds and groups of kinds of animals and plants

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Other Words from nomenclature

nomenclatural \ ˌnō-​mən-​ˈklāch-​rəl How to pronounce nomenclatural (audio) , -​ˈklā-​chə-​ \ adjective

Are nomenclature and Name Synonymous?

In his 1926 Dictionary of Modern English Usage, grammarian H. W. Fowler asserted that it was wrong to use nomenclature as a synonym for name; he declared that nomenclature could only mean "a system of naming or of names." It is true that nomenclature comes from the Latin nomenclatura, meaning "the assigning of names," but the name sense was the first to appear in English (it is documented as long ago as 1610), and it has been considered perfectly standard for centuries.

Examples of nomenclature in a Sentence

the nomenclatures of zoology and chemistry the nomenclature, “tuxedo,” derives from the fact that the jacket first became popular in the resort area of Tuxedo Park, New York

Recent Examples on the Web

Mercury isn’t alone in its whimsical nomenclature: Venus’s features are all named after famous women, and the moons of Uranus are named after characters from Shakespeare. Kim Stanley Robinson, National Geographic, "Dear MESSENGER: How unmasking Mercury brought art to life," 22 Mar. 2019 Yes, dogs do belong to the order of Carnivora, but this taxonomic nomenclature is a bit misleading. Brian Kateman, Quartz, "Vegan pets sound bougie, but they might just save the Earth," 12 June 2019 Some of the nomenclature on this 1975 soundtrack might be dated, but the entire album is still a timeless classic (s/o Tim Curry’s vocals). Aly Semigran, Billboard, "15 Essential Soundtracks From LGBTQ Movies," 4 June 2019 With bigger digits in the model nomenclature come greater expectations. Clifford Atiyeh, Car and Driver, "he 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE580 Has a Hybrid V-8 More Powerful Than an AMG GT," 22 May 2019 Jarvis spearheaded a total rewrite of avian brain nomenclature, which has allowed scientists to better unravel the relationships between the brains of birds and vertebrates. Quanta Magazine, "In Birds’ Songs, Brains and Genes, He Finds Clues to Speech," 30 Jan. 2018 The challenge of understanding the nomenclature, differentiating between LGBTQ and LGBT+, presented a learning opportunity. Leah Garchik,, "Italians gather for patriotic celebration and Aperol spritzes," 6 June 2019 Lisbon Torchière $1,295, Carl Conway, director of retail and trade sales for Italian lighting brand FLOS, decodes the new nomenclature. Kathryn O’shea-evans, WSJ, "Goodbye, Showy Chandeliers. Hello, Low-Key Lighting That Transforms Rooms," 25 Jan. 2019 The dense remains of exploded, titanic stars — currently known as neutron stars — could be made of this stuff, begging an even cooler nomenclature: strange stars. Adam Hadhazy, Discover Magazine, "Scientists Hunt for A Seeming Paradox: A Magnet With Only One Pole," 13 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nomenclature.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of nomenclature

1610, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nomenclature

borrowed from Latin nōmenclātūra "assigning of names to things," from nōmen "name" + calātus, past participle of calāre "to announce, proclaim" + -ūra -ure — more at name entry 1, low entry 1

Note: The Latin word is formed after earlier nōmenclātor "slave tasked with telling his master the names of clients and others encountered publicly"—see nomenclator.

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Last Updated

11 Jul 2019

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The first known use of nomenclature was in 1610

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More Definitions for nomenclature



English Language Learners Definition of nomenclature

formal : a system of names for things especially in science


no·​men·​cla·​ture | \ ˈnō-mən-ˌklā-chər also nō-ˈmen-klə-ˌchu̇(ə)r, -ˈmeŋ-, -klə-chər, -klə-ˌt(y)u̇(ə)r\

Medical Definition of nomenclature

: a system of terms used in a particular science especially : an international system of standardized New Latin names used in biology for kinds and groups of kinds of animals and plants — see binomial nomenclature

Other Words from nomenclature

nomenclatural \ ˌnō-​mən-​ˈklāch-​(ə-​)rəl How to pronounce nomenclatural (audio) \ adjective
nomenclaturally \ -​ē How to pronounce nomenclaturally (audio) \ adverb

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