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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Albright, the study’s lead author, and co-author Peter Huybers, a climate scientist at Harvard, analyzed 60 paintings by Turner and 38 by Claude Monet of landmarks in London and Paris. Christopher Parker, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 Feb. 2023 Inés Camilloni, a climate scientist at the University of Buenos Aires, said the technology still might be able to address some short-term challenges. Michael Birnbaum,, 27 Feb. 2023 Just 15 days later a weakening Nicholas came nearby, close enough for its wind, rain and storm surge to add to the problems, said study co-author Ning Lin, a risk engineer and climate scientist at Princeton. Seth Borenstein, Orlando Sentinel, 27 Feb. 2023 Overnight and into Friday, some snow is expected down to 500 to 1,000 feet in elevation in the Bay Area, according to a tweet from UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain. Claire Hao, San Francisco Chronicle, 23 Feb. 2023 David Pierce, a climate scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, pointed out that roughly 80% of the river’s water goes to agriculture under a system established generations ago. Ian Jamesstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 10 Feb. 2023 Howard Diamond, senior climate scientist at NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory, confirmed the graph in the post matches the historical data from the Vostok ice core records. Isabella Fertel, USA TODAY, 10 Feb. 2023 Brian Brettschneider, a climate scientist based in Alaska, tweeted that the last time the wind chill could have hit at least minus-108 in Mount Washington would have been 138 years ago. Timothy Bella, Washington Post, 3 Feb. 2023 More important than the amount of moisture in the ground right now is what’s there at the end of winter, said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. Rachel Ramirez, CNN, 26 Jan. 2023 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.

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 21 Mar. 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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