We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Binomial Nomenclature?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Binomial nomenclature is the system used to identify all organisms on Earth, from elephants to algae. A binomial or scientific name identifies an organism by its genus and species, ensuring that everyone understands which organism is under discussion. Binomial nomenclature fits within the larger framework of taxonomy, the science of categorizing living organisms and assigning traits to them to understand the links and differences between them. The scientific name of an organism could be considered its definitive name, with scientific names being understood by scientists all over the world.

You may also hear scientific names being referred to as “Latin names,” in a reference to the heavy use of Latin in taxonomy. However, it is also common to see Latinized names, typically honoring the person who discovered the organization, or the region in which it was discovered; for example, Branta canadensis is the Canadian Goose. Greek is also used in scientific names, often in a jumble with Latin which brings some classical scholars to tears.

The system of binomial nomenclature was developed by Carolus Linnaeus, an 18th century scientist who attempted to codify the natural world with a taxonomic system. Various taxonomic systems had been used before this point, but Linnaeus established a flexible, easy to use system which caught on rapidly. Taxonomy was actually largely undisciplined until the 19th century, when people began to establish codes and organizations to oversee the field of taxonomy. When new organisms are discovered, they are reported to these organizations to ensure that the discovery is, in fact new, allowing a new name to be generated.

It can be helpful to know about some of the conventions used in regards to binomial nomenclature. For example, scientific names are always given with the genus capitalized, in italics, like this: Genus species. In scientific journals, credit is given to the person who discovered the organism in parentheses after the first listing of the scientific name, like this: Example animal (Jones, 1997). When the common name of an organism is given, the scientific name follows in parentheses, as in this example: “The Common Wombat (Vombatus ursinus) lives in Australia.”

The name of the genus is always spelled out, unless you mention an organism's scientific name more than once in a written document, in which case you may turn it into an initial, like this: “The biology of the Atlantic giant squid Architeuthis dux is not fully understood, but scientists hope that further studies of A. dux and its cousin, the Southern giant squid (A. sanctipauli) will yield more information on these fascinating creatures.” Common usages like "E. coli" are frowned upon by the conventions of binomial nomenclature, with scientists preferring to see Escherichia coli written out in any discussion of this fascinating bacterium.

In zoology, taxonomy is overseen by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), with equivalent bodies for botany, bacteria, and viruses. These groups all apply specific rules and codes to the scientific names they oversee, ensuring uniformity within their fields. Taxonomy is also by no means set in stone; organisms may move between genera, for example, as more information is gathered about them.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a All The Science researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon331499 — On Apr 23, 2013

Yes he did, but it did not stick around because of Carolus.

By anon53251 — On Nov 19, 2009

but his system never "stayed" because Carolus Linnaeus invented a better naming system.

By anon53250 — On Nov 19, 2009

yes... Aristotle created a naming system with two categories. (according to how they moved.)

By anon46228 — On Sep 23, 2009

yes Aristotle did.

By anon29677 — On Apr 06, 2009

Didn't Aristotle come up with something like that?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.