Nomenclature: Definition, Principles & Advantages (2023)

  • Written By Harshitha A
  • Last Modified 17-01-2023

Nomenclature: Definition, Principles & Advantages (1)

The term “nomenclature” comes from a Latin word that means “naming.” The Latinate nomen is the source of English’s name and noun. Do you have a name? Does your friend have a name? Yes, right? But why do we need names? All human beings are given a name for their identification.

We are all known asHomo sapiens! The human species is namedHomo sapiensbecause of a naming system known asNomenclature.Not only us, but animals like cats and dogs also have unique names. This article will learn more interesting topics like Binomial Nomenclature and learn some new names.

Nomenclature: Definition, Principles & Advantages (2)

What is Called Nomenclature?

The system of giving unique or distinct names to an organism is termed Nomenclature.

(Video) Classification & Binomial Nomenclature

What is the reason behind this system called Nomenclature?
There are many living organisms in this world and we cannot possibly talk about any organism without its name hence, each organism has been given a name. Thus, we have names like dog, cat, monkey, rose, etc. These common names are often misleading and create confusion because organisms are recognized by different names in different languages.
For example, the animal named cat is recognized and called “billee” in Hindi, “punai” in Tamil, “bekku” in Kannada and so on. Hence, a person cannot guess or identify one particular organism with so many different names.
To avoid this confusion, scientific or specific names are given to organisms, and this naming system is known as Nomenclature.

Binomial Nomenclature

Many scientists made several types of research and attempts in the field of nomenclature. But the most acceptable and most workable system of nomenclature was proposed by Carolus Linnaeus in the year \(1753,\) and so he is also considered as the Father of Taxonomy.

He proposed that the name of every individual organism should be composed of two components, i.e., the first word refers to the genus (generic name) and the next to the species (specific name) of the organism. As this naming system involves two components, this kind of naming system is called Binomial Nomenclature.

The definition is “The scientific naming of an organism using two components is called Binomial Nomenclature”.

Nomenclature: Definition, Principles & Advantages (3)

Carolus Linnaeus mentioned this in his book Species Plantarum in \(1753\) for plants and also in Systema Naturae in \(1758\) for animals.

What are genus and species?
In the topic called Taxonomy, Linnaeus has introduced a Taxonomic category or Taxonomic Hierarchy. It is the sequence of arrangement of taxa in descending order during the classification of the organism. It includes \(8\) taxa, i.e., Domain, kingdom, phylum/division, class, order, family, genus and species.
Here, species is the basic unit of classification and was proposed by John Ray. It is an organism that can interbreed to produce fertile offspring. Genus is the largest unit of the taxon; it includes two or more related species.

Types of Nomenclature other than Binomial Nomenclature

The other type of nomenclature other than Binomial Nomenclature are as follows:

Polynomial System of Nomenclature

It is a type of naming system containing more than two words.

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Trinomial System of Nomenclature

It is a component of the polynomial system and contains three words. (The third word represents the sub-species and the first two words remain the same as in the binomial system of nomenclature).

Codes of Biological Nomenclature

There are five codes of nomenclature that help to avoid errors or mistakes, duplication and ambiguity in the scientific names of any organism. They are as follows:

  1. ICBN – International Code of Botanical Nomenclature
  2. ICZN – International Code of Zoological Nomenclature
  3. ICVN International Code of Viral Nomenclature
  4. ICNB – International Code for Nomenclature of Bacteria
  5. ICNCP – International Code for Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants.

Types of Naming the Organisms

The types of naming the organisms include the following:

1. Tautonym – It is a binomial naming system consisting of the same word twice.
Example: Bison bison.
2. Synonym – Synonym is the alternative name used to the same organism after a certain period of time by a second scientist who works on the same species.
Example: The synonym of Albugo candida is Cystopus candidus.
3. Homonym – When the same or identical name is given to two different taxa, that is called homonym.
Example: The name Echidna was proposed for the genus of spiny anteater in \(1797.\) But this name “Echidna” was already published in \(1777\) for a genus of moray eels.

Example of Nomenclature

The Nomenclature examples of some organisms are given below:

OrganismScientific nameGenus nameSpecies name
ManHomo sapiensHomosapiens
TigerPanthera tigrisPantheratigris
Neem TreeAzadirachta indicaAzadirachtaindica
Nomenclature: Definition, Principles & Advantages (4)

Fig: Homo sapiens

Rules or Principles of Nomenclature

Rules or principles for Binomial Nomenclature was given by the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN) and the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) which aims at providing stable methods for naming organisms and avoiding the use of names that cause error or confusion.

The rules or principles of nomenclature are as follows:
1. The scientific name consists of two parts. The first part is called “Genus name” or “Generic name”. The second part is called the “Species name” or “Specific name”.
Example: The scientific name of the man is Homo sapiens.

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Nomenclature: Definition, Principles & Advantages (5)

2. A third name can be used for subspecies or a variety. For example, Hibiscus-rosa sinensis Linn

Nomenclature: Definition, Principles & Advantages (6)

3. The Genus name should always begin with a capital letter, while the species name should begin with a small letter.

4. The scientific name must be in Italics, if printed and if handwritten, underline separately.
Italics Homo sapiens
Handwritten Homo sapiens

5. The name of the person who first described the term is added at the end (after the species or subspecies) without any punctuation mark and underline.
For Example, Mangifera indica Linn
Here, ‘Linn’ indicates the author or the scientist Linnaeus who first described the plant.

6. The scientific name is in Latin or Greek languages; when other language words are used other than Latin or Greek, they are Latinized.
For example, the Scientific name of the banyan tree is “Ficus benghalensis”.
Here, “benghalensis” denotes it is from Bengal.

7. The Genus name of any two kingdoms will not be the same, but the species name can be repeated.
For example, MangoMangifera indica; TamarindTamarindus indicus.
Here, the term ‘indica’ and ‘indicus’ both indicate that it is from India.

8. Sometimes, the genus name and common name of an organism are the same.
For example, Eucalyptus for Eucalyptus
Chrysanthemum for Chrysanthemum

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Do you Know?

Why is Latin the language used in giving scientific names?
Latin is a language that is not in use like other common languages, and Latin is unchanging since it is not spoken today. The Latin language is much easier to understand as it explains the meaning very clearly.

Nomenclature: Definition, Principles & Advantages (7)

Advantages of Binomial Nomenclature

Advantages of Binomial Nomenclature are as follows:
1. The scientific names are universally applied all over the world.
2. Every species has a single and precise name.
3. The scientific name gives important clues about the characteristics of the organisms.
4. The scientific names are derived from Greek and Latin languages. Hence, there is no chance of a change in the meaning of the name.
5. The name indicates the relationship of a species with others present in the same genus.
6. It helps in unambiguous communication between scientists and researchers worldwide.

Nomenclature vs Classification

The system of giving unique or distinct names to an organismClassification is the arranging of living organisms into groups based on their similarities and differences.
Only two terms, i.e., genus and species.Eight levels of the organization. i.e., domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species.
This helps in differentiating one organism from another due to its unique and scientific names.Classification places living organisms in specialized groups based on their similarities in structure, molecular composition, origin, etc.
Nomenclature: Definition, Principles & Advantages (8)


Every organism is placed under different kingdoms according to its characteristics. Similarly, the organisms are classified and named with a scientific naming system called nomenclature to represent their origin. The nomenclature system has made it easy to understand and identify every specific organism with its unique names. Through this article, we got to know how naming the organism came into existence, and we understood the rules that should be followed while writing the scientific names of an organism.


Q.1. What is an example of nomenclature?
Scientific name of the man is Homo sapiens. Here, Homo is the genus name of the man and sapiens is the species name.

Q.2. What is called nomenclature?
The system of giving unique or distinct names to an organism is termed Nomenclature.

Q.3. What is the purpose of nomenclature?
The purpose of nomenclature is to avoid confusion and ambiguity of the organism’s name.

(Video) What is Binomial Nomenclature|Definition,Rules, Principles of Binomial Nomenclature, Author Citation

Q.4. What are the types of nomenclature?
Ans: The types of nomenclature are the polynomial system of nomenclature and the trinomial system of nomenclature.

Q.5. Who is known as the father of nomenclature?
Ans: Carolus Linnaeus is known as the father of nomenclature.

We hope this detailed article on Nomenclature helps you in your preparation. If you get stuck do let us know in the comments section below and we will get back to you at the earliest.


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