sci·​en·​tist ˈsī-ən-tist How to pronounce scientist (audio)
: a person learned in science and especially natural science : a scientific investigator
capitalized : christian scientist

Examples of scientist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In the fourth season of HBO’s anthology series True Detective: Night Country, Academy-award winning Jodie Foster and Kali Reis star as detectives investigating the disappearance of eight scientists who work at the Tsalal Arctic Research Station. Kalia Richardson, Rolling Stone, 4 Dec. 2023 Now, in a study of mice and human samples, a team of scientists has found that S. aureus releases an enzyme called V8 protease onto the skin, which helps activate itch-driving neurons. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 4 Dec. 2023 Climate change is resulting in everything from decreasing land productivity to seed viability, according to the scientists. Alfredo Sosa, The Christian Science Monitor, 1 Dec. 2023 As gas planets, they're believed to have solid cores made of rock, metal or ice, enveloped by thick layers of hydrogen, according to the scientists. CBS News, 30 Nov. 2023 That board that ejected Altman included the company’s chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever, who later recanted and joined with staff who threatened to quit if Altman was not reinstated. Will Knight, WIRED, 30 Nov. 2023 Although scientists aren’t exactly sure why, a number of factors are thought to contribute, including inbreeding, an increase in the number of predators and a declining food supply. Jonathan Edwards, Washington Post, 30 Nov. 2023 Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman has filmed a lot of things — dismissive budget negotiations among UC Berkeley administrators, dead end conversations inside a New York welfare center, a live capuchin monkey being decapitated by scientists. J. Kim Murphy, Variety, 22 Nov. 2023 On Friday, the day Altman was ousted, Shear responded to a meme about OpenAI’s chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever, a co-founder and board member, who participated in the decision to oust Altman and then apologized. Kat Tenbarge, NBC News, 21 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'scientist.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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.

First Known Use

1834, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of scientist was in 1834

Dictionary Entries Near scientist

Cite this Entry

“Scientist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


sci·​en·​tist ˈsī-ənt-əst How to pronounce scientist (audio)
: a person skilled in science and especially natural science : a scientific investigator

Medical Definition


sci·​en·​tist ˈsī-ənt-əst How to pronounce scientist (audio)
: a person learned in science and especially natural science : a scientific investigator

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