tax·​on | \ ˈtak-ˌsän How to pronounce taxon (audio) \
plural taxa\ ˈtak-​sə How to pronounce taxa (audio) \ also taxons

Definition of taxon

1 : a scientifically classified group or entity : a taxonomic unit (such as a genus or order) of any rank Like higher taxa, subspecies are also partly objective but partly based on human decision.— Stephen Jay Gould … we know from the fossil record that this is a relict taxon … originating 13 million years ago …— Bernard Wood et al.
2 : the name applied to a taxonomic group in a formal system of nomenclature The marine triclads are formally subsumed in the taxon Maricola …— Seth Tyler

Examples of taxon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web One of the bite marks may be from an unusually large Allosaurus or a separate, large-bodied taxon such as Saurophaganax or Torvosaurus tanneri, which have been found in other parts of the Morrison Formation. Kristen Rogers, CNN, "Bad to the bone: Cannibal dinosaurs turned to eating each other in tough times," 27 May 2020 And depending on your view of mammalian evolution, the first taxon to develop diurnality was either the most common recent ancestor of all apes and monkeys or the most common recent ancestor of all… elephant shrews. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Dinosaurs kept mammals in the dark," 10 Nov. 2017 The rules for naming a new animal taxon are governed by the ICZN, while the International Association for Plant Taxonomy (IAPT) governs plants. Benjamin Jones, Smithsonian, "A Few Bad Scientists Are Threatening to Topple Taxonomy," 7 Sep. 2017 Global patterns and predictors of marine biodiversity across taxa. Jess Mcnally, WIRED, "Warming of Oceans Will Reduce and Rearrange Marine Life," 28 July 2010

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

1929, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for taxon

borrowed from German Taxon, extracted from Taxonomie taxonomy, with -on functioning as a suffix, based on the Greek neuter noun and participle ending — more at -on entry 2

Note: German Taxon was introduced by the philosopher and historian of the natural sciences Adolf Meyer-Abich (1893-1971) in Logik der Morphologie im Rahmen einer Logik der gesamten Biologie (Berlin, 1926), p. 127.

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Time Traveler for taxon

Time Traveler

The first known use of taxon was in 1929

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Last Updated

1 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Taxon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for taxon


tax·​on | \ ˈtak-ˌsän How to pronounce taxon (audio) \
plural taxa\ -​sə How to pronounce taxa (audio) \ also taxons

Medical Definition of taxon

1 : a taxonomic group or entity
2 : the name applied to a taxonomic group in a formal system of nomenclature

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Britannica English: Translation of taxon for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about taxon

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