sci·​en·​tial sī-ˈen(t)-shəl How to pronounce sciential (audio)
: relating to or producing knowledge or science
: having efficient knowledge : capable

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Literature and Sciential

You might expect sciential, which derives from Latin scientia (meaning "knowledge"), to be used mostly in technical papers and descriptions of scientific experiments. In truth, however, sciential has long been a favorite of playwrights and poets. It appears in the works of Ben Jonson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and John Keats, among others. Keats made particularly lyrical use of it in his narrative poem "Lamia," which depicts a doomed love affair between the Greek sorceress Lamia and a human named Lycius. In the poem, Hermes transforms Lamia from a serpent into a beautiful woman, "Not one hour old, yet of sciential brain."

Word History


Middle English sciencial "related to knowledge, based on certain knowledge," borrowed from Medieval Latin scientiālis, from Latin scientia "knowledge, science" + -ālis -al entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sciential was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near sciential

Cite this Entry

“Sciential.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

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