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 The large fish is likely around 20 years old, according to Bob Hueter, chief scientist at OCEARCH. Zoe Sottile, CNN, 8 May 2022 Professor Bobby Duffy, a social scientist at King’s College London, has a wake-up call for marketers: Strategies focused on segmenting customers by demographic generation, like adults ages 25-54, only paint half the picture. Dan Robbins, Forbes, 5 May 2022 However, Jim Bell, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University says that any life on Mars would be ill-suited to survive on the Earth. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 4 May 2022 There are fewer union voters, and the ones who remain are less Democratic, said Jeff Broxmeyer, a political scientist at the University of Toledo. New York Times, 28 Apr. 2022 If people go with what their intuition tells them about minority representation rather than using actual numbers, doing so could be costly, says Ran Hassin, a cognitive scientist at the Hebrew University and senior author of the study. Emily Willingham, Scientific American, 27 Apr. 2022 And the country has lost moral authority that will be hard to regain, says Arman Mahmoudian, a political scientist at the University of South Florida. Lenora Chu, The Christian Science Monitor, 26 Apr. 2022 But Vincent Martigny, a political scientist at the University of Nice, said this was the first time in his memory that a presidential election night was so dominated by talk about the next upcoming electoral battle. Washington Post, 25 Apr. 2022 Tarcisius Kabutaulaka, a political scientist at the University of Hawaii who is from the Solomon Islands, said Sogavare’s government would not allow Beijing to build a military installation and was simply seeking to exploit global rivalries. NBC News, 24 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

10 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Scientist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for scientist


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

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Nglish: Translation of scientist for Spanish Speakers

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