Definition of taxonomy in US English:



  • 1The branch of science concerned with classification, especially of organisms; systematics.

    • ‘The question remains, however, whether expertise in taxonomy and biological systematics will be available for the long term.’
    • ‘Cladistics is currently the most popular paradigm of phylogenetic classification in biological taxonomy.’
    • ‘Chromosomes are often useful in systematics and taxonomy, but are of restricted taxonomic value in Periplocoideae.’
    • ‘Also called numerical taxonomy, Phenetics is a school of taxonomy that classifies organisms on the basis of overall morphological or genetic similarity.’
    • ‘The success of flow cytometry and its ever-increasing use in plant taxonomy, systematics and ecology may pose unexpected problems.’
    categorization, categorizing, classifying, classing, grouping, grading, ranking, organization, sorting, codification, systematization, stratification
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The classification of something, especially organisms.
      ‘the taxonomy of these fossils’
      • ‘The group that has been most commonly analysed morphometrically is the planktonic foraminifers, largely because of their well-established taxonomy and their optimal fossil record.’
      • ‘The three-month training began with the work on coral taxonomy in Townsville, in northwest Australia.’
      • ‘In the Linnaean taxonomy, everything is, to begin with, a member of a kingdom.’
      • ‘In the wonderment of this taxonomy, the thing that is demonstrated in the exotic charm of another system of thought is the limitation of our own.’
      • ‘Mayr and Diamond's reluctance to appreciate the importance of fossil evidence is evident in their taxonomy.’
    2. 1.2 A scheme of classification.
      ‘a taxonomy of smells’
      • ‘Whether or not one accepts this sociological taxonomy there is no denying the proliferation of summer festivals.’
      • ‘So whatever the debatable points of his taxonomy (and this being analytic philosophy, there are plenty of taxonomic points to debate), I think Strawson is on to something.’
      • ‘I need some advice. I've been trying to develop a personal schema/taxonomy - and I don't really know where to start.’
      • ‘Smith's imagination was not limited to studying the extant taxonomy of market institutions.’
      • ‘Virginia's book was liberating for me, because its alternate taxonomy helped me avoid unwittingly imposing artificial political identities on my own thinking.’


Early 19th century: coined in French from Greek taxis ‘arrangement’ + -nomia ‘distribution’.