tax·​on·​o·​my | \ tak-ˈsä-nə-mē \

Definition of taxonomy

1 : the study of the general principles of scientific classification : systematics
2 : classification especially : orderly classification of plants and animals according to their presumed natural relationships

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Other Words from taxonomy

taxonomic \ ˌtak-​sə-​ˈnä-​mik \ or less commonly taxonomical \ ˌtak-​sə-​ˈnä-​mi-​kəl \ adjective
taxonomically \ ˌtak-​sə-​ˈnä-​mi-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb
taxonomist \ tak-​ˈsä-​nə-​mist \ noun

Examples of taxonomy in a Sentence

the taxonomies of various plant groups

Recent Examples on the Web

Before publishing his taxonomies, Linnaeus had to organize everything himself. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "How the Humble Index Card Foresaw the Internet," 11 Feb. 2016 So Belousova’s team set out to build its own taxonomy of food. Adam Rogers, WIRED, "How GrubHub Analyzed 4,000 Dishes to Predict Your Next Order," 2 Apr. 2018 Skin tone taxonomies often lump complexion into broad categories, focusing on the spectrum of light and dark. Arielle Pardes, WIRED, "Pinterest Wants to Diversify Your Search Results," 26 Apr. 2018 As Susan Milius at Science News reports, the Entomological Society of America (ESA) recently updated the termite’s taxonomy, merging the families of their order Isoptera with those of the cockroach order Blattodea. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Termites Are Moving in With Cockroaches, Taxonomically," 5 Mar. 2018 Get our daily newsletter Most industries have established taxonomies that hide their flaws. The Economist, "Michel Foucault’s lessons for business," 21 June 2018 This dispiriting error of taxonomy drained a lot of the energy out of Project S.A.D., and also my kid was getting tired and cranky from walking around in the heat. Christopher Bonanos, The Cut, "Searching for Alan Dershowitz on Martha’s Vineyard," 5 July 2018 Computers are already proficient at picking stocks, translating speech, and diagnosing cancer, and their reach has begun to extend beyond calculation and taxonomy. Tad Friend, The New Yorker, "How Frightened Should We Be of A.I.?," 7 May 2018 Taking their findings back to begin a proper taxonomy, the team felt unsatisfied with Barney’s mammalian traits. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "Science after hours: Barney’s aquatic traits and how pregnant women stay upright," 24 Feb. 2018

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

circa 1828, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for taxonomy

French taxonomie, from tax- + -nomie -nomy

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Statistics for taxonomy

Last Updated

30 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for taxonomy

The first known use of taxonomy was circa 1828

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More Definitions for taxonomy



English Language Learners Definition of taxonomy

: the process or system of describing the way in which different living things are related by putting them in groups


tax·​on·​o·​my | \ tak-ˈsä-nə-mē \

Kids Definition of taxonomy

: classification of living things (as plants and animals) using a system that is usually based on natural relationships


tax·​on·​o·​my | \ tak-ˈsän-ə-mē \
plural taxonomies

Medical Definition of taxonomy

1 : the study of the general principles of scientific classification : systematics
2 : orderly classification of plants and animals according to their presumed natural relationships

More from Merriam-Webster on taxonomy

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

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