October 6th, 2019

words 6
  • sallymn

Sunday Word: Nomenclature

nomenclature [noh-muhn-kley-cher, noh-men-kluh-cher, -choor ]
1 Name, designation.

2 the act or process or an instance of naming

3 a a system or set of terms or symbols especially in a particular science, discipline, or art
3 b an international system of standardized New Latin names used in biology for kinds and groups of kinds of animals and plants


Mercury isn’t alone in its whimsical nomenclature: Venus’s features are all named after famous women, and the moons of Uranus are named after characters from Shakespeare. (Kim Stanley Robinson, Dear MESSENGER: How unmasking Mercury brought art to life, National Geographic, 2019)

And I found out what dissimulators are: they simply pretend that they're not pretending to be defective. Or perhaps it's the other way around. The whole thing is very complicated. A probot is a robot on probation, while a servo is one still serving time. A robotch may or may not be a sabot. One vial, and my head is splitting with information and nomenclature. (Stanisław Lem, The Futurological Congress)

"What we call the vertex of the Brain is really its base: and what we call its base is really its vertex: it is simply a question of nomenclature." (Lewis Carroll, Sylvie and Bruno)

Looking over the nomenclature for the purpose of making an index, I was struck with the name Abrah applying to a ford. (Claude Reignier Conder, Tent Work in Palestine)


Early 17th century from French, from Latin nomenclatura, from nomen 'name' + clatura 'calling, summoning' (from calare 'to call'). (Lexico)

Nomenclature comes straight from Latin nomenclatura 'assignment of names to things, mentioning things by name, a list of names.' In English, the original (Latin) sense dates to the early 17th century. At the same time, nomenclature acquired the sense 'a systematic assignment of names, as in botany or zoology' (as in binomial nomenclature ), and later in the same century, 'the technical terms within a science.'

The noun nomenklatura 'nomenclature' has existed in Russian since the early 19th century. Beginning in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, nomenklatura meant the list of names or category of people in the Soviet Union who held important positions in the bureaucracy, all of whom had to be approved by the Communist Party. English adopted nomenklatura in the late 1950s in discussing the bureaucracies of the Soviet Union and other Communist countries. (Dictionary.com)

In his 1926 'Dictionary of Modern English Usage', grammarian H W Fowler asserted that it was wrong to use nomenclature as a synonym for name; he declared that nomenclature could only mean 'a system of naming or of names.' It is true that nomenclature comes from the Latin nomenclatura, meaning 'the assigning of names,' but the name sense was the first to appear in English (it is documented as long ago as 1610), and it has been considered perfectly standard for centuries. (Merriam-Webster)