sci·​en·​tist | \ ˈsī-ən-tist How to pronounce scientist (audio) \

Definition of scientist

1 : a person learned in science and especially natural science : a scientific investigator
2 capitalized : christian scientist

Examples of scientist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Fauci has been director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, serving as a government scientist under seven presidents. Carly Roman, Washington Examiner, "Meghan McCain attracts backlash for comments on Fauci and vaccine access," 22 Feb. 2021 Most people know George Washington Carver as an agricultural scientist. Los Angeles Times, "Science-themed ‘Pacific Standard Time’ for 2024 takes shape with Getty art grants," 27 Jan. 2021 Myhrvold, who holds a PhD in theoretical mathematics and physics from Princeton University and served as the Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft for 14 years, leaned on his background as a scientist to create the camera. Jennifer Nalewicki, Smithsonian Magazine, "These Are the Highest Resolution Photos Ever Taken of Snowflakes," 27 Jan. 2021 While studying for her doctorate, Shirazi also serves as the university’s lead scientist in a statewide program to survey and protect biodiversity in California, her lawyers said. Bob Egelko,, "UC Santa grad student sues university, saying she was clubbed by police during protest," 22 Jan. 2021 Legates is listed as the main author of the series, with other contributors including Maue, who was installed as NOAA chief scientist in September and sent to the OSTP in November. Author: Andrew Freedman, Jason Samenow, Anchorage Daily News, "White House reassigns officials who published papers questioning seriousness of climate change," 12 Jan. 2021 Those mice had received the experimental, preventative COVID-19 treatment made by Arizona biotech company Sotira, where Gottschalk works as a principal scientist. Amanda Morris, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona company tests possible short-term COVID-19 vaccine alternative," 5 Dec. 2020 One presents its annual climate science communications awards to Edward Maibach, director of the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, and Anthony Leiserowitz, senior research scientist and director at Yale University. Chronicle Staff Report,, "Bay Area political events: Town hall meeting on pro-Trump insurrection, EMILY’s List," 11 Jan. 2021 And while 2020 may tie the record, all of the past six years are among the hottest ever, said Freja Vamborg, a senior scientist with the Copernicus Climate Change Service. Star Tribune, "2020 ties 2016 as hottest yet, European analysis shows," 9 Jan. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scientist.' 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 scientist

1834, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for scientist

scient- (in Latin scientia "knowledge, science" or in scientific) + -ist entry 1

Note: The word scientist was apparently first introduced by the English polymath William Whewell (1794-1866). The coinage is referred to in an unsigned book review authored by Whewell in The Quarterly Review, vol. 51 (March & June, 1834), pp. 58-59): "The tendency of the sciences has long been an increasing proclivity to separation and dismemberment…The mathematician turns away from the chemist; the chemist from the naturalist; the mathematician, left to himself, divides himself into a pure mathematician and a mixed mathematician, who soon part company; the chemist is perhaps a chemist of electro-chemistry; if so, he leaves common chemical analysis to others; between the mathematician and the chemist is to be interpolated a 'physicien' (we have no English name for him), who studies heat, moisture, and the like. And thus science, even mere physical science, loses all traces of unity. A curious illustration of this result may be observed in the want of any name by which we can designate the students of the knowledge of the material world collectively. We are informed that this difficulty was felt very oppresively by the members of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, in their meetings at York, Oxford, and Cambridge, in the last three summers. 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. [Samuel Taylor] Coleridge, both in his capacity of philologer [philologist] and metaphysician; savans was rather assuming, besides being French instead of English; some ingenious gentleman [apparently William Whewell himself] 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…." As Whewell indicates, his coinage was not a success, though, undeterred, he reintroduced it in 1840, and the word seems to have been produced independently of Whewell in the following two decades in both Britain and the United States (where it was more readily accepted). For documentation and details, see Sydney Ross, "Scientist: the story of a word," Annals of Science, vol. 18, no. 2 (June, 1962), pp. 65-85.

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The first known use of scientist was in 1834

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Last Updated

27 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Scientist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for scientist



English Language Learners Definition of scientist

: a person who is trained in a science and whose job involves doing scientific research or solving scientific problems


sci·​en·​tist | \ ˈsī-ən-təst How to pronounce scientist (audio) \

Kids Definition of scientist

: a person who studies, specializes in, or investigates a field of science and does scientific work


sci·​en·​tist | \ ˈsī-ənt-əst How to pronounce scientist (audio) \

Medical Definition of scientist

: a person learned in science and especially natural science : a scientific investigator

More from Merriam-Webster on scientist

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