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tax·on·o·my  (tk-sn-m)
n. pl. tax·on·o·mies
1. The classification of organisms in an ordered system that indicates natural relationships.
2. The science, laws, or principles of classification; systematics.
3. Division into ordered groups or categories: Scholars have been laboring to develop a taxonomy of young killers (Aric Press).

[French taxonomie : Greek taxis, arrangement; see taxis + -nomie, method (from Greek -nomi; see -nomy).]

tax·ono·mist n.

Taxonomy of Life

The taxonomic organization of species is hierarchical. Each species belongs to a genus, each genus belongs to a family, and so on through order, class, phylum, and kingdom. Associations within the hierarchy reflect evolutionary relationships, which are deduced typically from morphological and physiological similarities between species. So, for example, species in the same genus are more closely related and more alike than species that are in different genera within the same family. Carolus Linnaeus, an 18th-century Swedish botanist, devised the system of binomial nomenclature used for naming species. In this system, each species is given a two-part Latin name, formed by appending a specific epithet to the genus name. By convention, the genus name is capitalized, and both the genus name and specific epithet are italicized, for Canis familiaris or simply C. familiaris. Modern taxonomy is currently in flux, and certain aspects of classification are being refined. This table shows one traditional classification of five species of life out of the estimated five million species of the world.

Common NameKingdomPhylum*ClassOrderFamilyGenusSpecies
ChordataMammaliaCarnivoraCanidaeCanisC. familiaris
Sugar MaplePlantae
MagnoliophytaRosidaeSapindalesAceraceaeAcerA. saccharum
Bread MoldFungi
ZygomycotaZygomycetesMucoralisMucoraceaeRhizopusR. stolonifer
FirmicutesActinobacteriaActinomycetalesMycobacteriaceaeMycobacteriumM. tuberculosis
Pond AlgaProtista
ChlorophytaEuconjugataeZygnematalisZygnemataceaeSpirogyraS. crassa

* In botanical nomenclature, division is used instead of phylum.

Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company

taxonomy [tækˈsɒnəmɪ]
1. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Biology)
a.  the branch of biology concerned with the classification of organisms into groups based on similarities of structure, origin, etc.
b.  the practice of arranging organisms in this way
2. the science or practice of classification
[from French taxonomie, from Greek taxis order + -nomy]
taxonomic  [ˌtæksəˈnɒmɪk], taxonomical adj
taxonomically  adv
taxonomist , taxonomer n

taxonomy  (tk-sn-m)
The scientific classification of organisms into specially named groups based either on shared characteristics or on evolutionary relationships as inferred from the fossil record or established by genetic analysis.

taxonomy  /tksnmi/  n. [U] the systematic classification of plants and animals taxonomy

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