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Who coined the term biology?

Learn who coined the term biology and how it has changed over the years.

Biology used to be divided into only two areas of study: botany and zoology. [©Jupiter Images, 2010]
©Jupiter Images, 2010
Biology used to be divided into only two areas of study: botany and zoology.

Biology was first used by Karl Burdach (1776-1847) to denote the study of man. Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet Lamarck (1744-1829) gave the term a broader meaning in 1812. He believed in the integral character of science. For the special sciences, chemistry, meteorology, geology and botany-zoology he coined the term biology.

A Different Definition for Biology

Lamarckism epitomizes the belief that changes acquired during an individual's lifetime as the result of active, quasi-purposive, functional adaptations can somehow be imprinted upon the genes, thereby becoming part of the heritage of succeeding generations. Today, very few professional biologists believe that anything of the kind occurs -- or can occur.

Biology and More

Biology is the science that deals with living things (Greek bios, "life"). Formerly broadly divided into two areas, zoology (Greek zoon, "animal"), the study of animals, and botany (Greek botanes, "plant"), the study of plants, biology is now divided and sub-divided into hundreds of special fields involving the structure, function and classification of the forms of life. These include anatomy, ecology, embryology, evolution, genetics, paleontology and physiology.

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