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Terms and abbreviations

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  • !: Indicates that a specimen has been seen by the author.
  • : Indicates that a taxon is extinct, that a (type) specimen has been destroyed, or that a publication was published posthumously.


  • affinis (often abbreviated aff. or occasionally, affin.) indicates that available material or evidence suggests that the proposed taxon is related to – has an affinity to – but is not identical to, the taxon with the binomial name it comes after. The Latin word affinis can be translated as "closely related to", or "akin to".
  • agg. Aggregate species. A grouping of closely-related species that are treated like a single species for practical purposes.
  • allotype A designated paratype of a species (or lower-order taxon) that is the opposite sex of the holotype.
  • auct.; auctt. (Auctorum) A name used in the sense of a number of subsequent authors and not in its (different) sense as established by the original author. It is often used in conjunction with nec or non to indicate a misapplied name.
  • autonym An automatically generated infrageneric or infraspecific name.


  • basionym In botany, the first legitimate name ("base name") upon which a name at new rank or a new combination is based, providing the final epithet, name or stem of the new combination or name at new rank. Equivalent to protonym in zoology, and basonym in bacteriology.
  • basonym In bacteriology, the first name used for a taxon. Equivalent to protonym in zoology, and basionym in botany.
  • bis In author abbreviations "bis" denotes the second son of an author. Compare "f." and "filius". For example Schult.f. (Julius Hermann Schultes, 1804–1840) and J.H.Schult.bis (Julius Hermann Schultes, 1820–1887), the first and second sons of Josef August Schultes (1773–1831, Schult.)


  • Candidatus In bacterial nomenclature, Candidatus is a component of the taxonomic name for a bacterium that cannot be maintained in a bacteriology culture collection. It is an interim taxonomic status for yet-to-be-cultured organisms. According to the "Ad Hoc Committee for the re-evaluation of the species definition in bacteriology", microbiologists are encouraged to use the Candidatus concept for well characterised but as-yet uncultured organisms. The names included in this category are usually written as: Candidatus (in italics), the subsequent name(s) in Roman type (with an initial capital letter for the genus name) and the entire name in quotation marks. For example, "Candidatus Carsonella", and "Candidatus Carsonella ruddii".
  • cf. (confer). Latin for "compare", marking an uncertain identification or referring to a comparison between sources with differing taxonomic opinions.
  • chresonym Is the cited use of a taxon name, usually a species name, within a publication. There are no assumptions with respect to appropriateness or accuracy in designations cf. synonym.
  • chresonymy Is a summary of the published occurrences of any given scientific name or set of names for a taxon. May contain orthochresonyms and/or heterochresonyms.
  • comb. ined. (combinatio inedita). A combination that appears not to have been validly published or whose publication is uncertain under one or more articles under ICBN. See also nom. ined.
  • comb. inval. (combinatio invalida). A combination not validly published according to ICBN.
  • comb. illeg. (combinatio illegitima). A validly published name that is not in accordance with one or more rules in ICBN.
  • comb. nov. (combinatio nova). A newly published name (sometimes noted as "combinatio revivisco" or comb. rev. by its author) that is introduced based on a pre-existing name, often the specific epithet is used with another genus name.
  • comb. superfl. (combinatio superflua). Superfluous combination, created with the use of a junior synonym instead of the appropriate basionym.
  • cum descr. (cum descriptione). With description.
  • cv. (cultivated variety). Added before the name of a cultivar in botany, e.g. Ziziphus jujuba cv. 'Spinasa'


  • emend. (emendavit) The diagnostic characters or the circumscription of a taxon has been altered ("emended").
  • et al. or & al. (Grammatical genders: et alii [masculine], et aliae [feminine] or et alia [neuter]). Latin for: and others, used to indicate other authors of a published work. Should always be italicized when using as an abbreviation.
  • ex Used to credit the coiner of a name, when said name was never, or invalidly published. Usage differs between botany and zoology:
    • In botany, the "correct" author goes last, same as with combination authors.
    • In zoology, the "correct" author goes first, as it is closest to the name.
  • excl. var. (exclusis varietatibus). This taxonomic concept excludes varieties which other authors have subsequently included.


  • fide "on the authority of", or with reference to publication, to a cited published statement
  • filius (often abbreviated f.) In author abbreviations "f." denotes the first son of an author. For example L.f. (Carolus Linnaeus the Younger), the son of L. (Carolus Linnaeus). Compare "bis".
  • floruit (often abbreviated fl. or occasionally, flor.) Latin meaning "he/she flourished", and denotes a date or period during which a person was known to have been alive or active. In English, the word may also be used as a noun indicating the time when someone "flourished", e.g. a period in life when an author of taxa was the most active.


  • gen. nov. (genus novum). A genus that is newly and validly published.


  • hemihomonyms The same name used for taxa from different nomenclature jurisdictions.
  • heterochresonym A chresonym that is applied incorrectly or inappropriately for a given taxon, possibly by misidentification. In botany this term can be more or less equivalent to a later heterotypic homonym. Examples at Wikipedia.
  • heterotypic synonym (taxonomic synonym). A name referring to the same taxon based on a type different from that of another name; often indicated by the symbol “=”; termed a “subjective synonym” in the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature.
  • holotype (holotypus) A single physical example (or illustration) of an organism, known to have been used when the species (or lower-ranked taxon) was formally described.
  • homonym The same name based on different types.
  • homotypic synonym (nomenclatural synonym). A name based on the same type as that of another name; often indicated by the symbol “≡”; termed an “objective synonym” in the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature.
  • Hort. (Hortulanorum). Used to indicate a name that saw significant use in the horticultural literature (usually of the 19th century and earlier), but was never properly published. (For the author abbreviation Hort (without period), see Fenton John Anthony Hort.)


  • ICN or ICNafp International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants, formerly known as the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN), maintained by the International Association for Plant Taxonomy (IAPT).
  • ICZN International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, published by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN).
  • in clavi. (in clavis, in clavem). In key or glossary.
  • in litt. (in litteris). In correspondence.
  • in obs. (in observatione). In observation.
  • in sched. (in schedis). On a herbarium sheet.
  • incertae sedis Of uncertain placement. A term used for a taxonomic group where its broader relationships are unknown or undefined.
  • ined. (ineditus). Unpublished and not validated, provisional name.
  • isonym The same name based on the same type, published independently at different times.
  • isotype In plant taxonomy a plant specimen that is a duplicate of or very similar to the type specimen and can be used as a reference specimen. They are collected at the same time and from the same plant, or localised population of plants, as the holotype. These duplicate specimens are often separated and deposited in several institutions.


  • juv. (juvenilis). Individual organism that has not yet reached its adult form, sexual maturity, or size.


  • lectotype A specimen or illustration designated from the original material as the nomenclatural type, in conformity with Art. 9.9 and 9.10 ICN, if no holotype was indicated at the time of publication, or if it is missing, or if it is found to belong to more than one taxon (see also Art. 9.13 ICN).
  • loc. cit. (loco citato). From the Latin: 'in the place mentioned'


  • nec (or non) Warning, that a homonym could be misinterpreted.
  • neotype A specimen or illustration later selected to serve as the single type specimen when an original holotype has been lost or destroyed, or where the original author never cited a specimen (Art. 75 ICZN and Art. 9.6, 9.15 ICN).
  • nom. alt. (nomen alternativum). A name of a family that is treated as validly published due to long usage (Art. 18 ICN).
  • nom. ambig. (nomen ambiguum). An ambiguous name, name commonly used by mistake for more than one taxon. Often impossible to typify.
  • nom. cons. (nomen conservandum)
    1. A name of a family, genus or species [or infraspecies] ruled as legitimate and with precedence over other specified names even though it may have been illegitimate when published or lack priority (Art. 14.1-14.7 ICN).
    2. A name for which its type, orthography, or gender has been fixed by the conservation process (Art. 14.1, 14.9-14.11 ICN).
  • nom. cons. prop. (nomen conservandum propositum). Proposed conserved name.
  • nom. dub. (nomen dubium, plural: nomina dubia). A dubious name whose application is difficult or impossible to determine.
  • nom. et orth. cons. (nomen et orthographia conservanda). Both name and orthographic variant conserved (Art. 14.1, 14.9-14.11 ICN).
  • nom. et typ. cons. (nomen et typus conservandum). Both name and type of a family, genus or species [or infraspecies] ruled as legitimate and with precedence over other specified names even though they may have been illegitimate when published or lack priority (Art. 14.1-14.7 ICN).
  • nom. illeg. (nomen illegitimum). A validly published name that is not in accordance with one or more rules (Art. 6.4 ICN), principally those on superfluity (Art. 52 ICN) and homonymy (Art. 53 and 54 ICN).
  • nom. illeg. hom. (nomen illegitimum homonymum). A validly published name that is not in accordance with the one or more of the rules on homonymy (Art. 53 and 54 ICN). A later or junior homonym.
  • nom. illeg. superfl. (nomen illegitimum superfluum). A validly published name that is not in accordance with the rule of superfluity (Art. 52 ICN). See also nom. superfl.
  • nom. inadmiss. (nomen inadmissibile). Illegitime renaming of the type.
  • nom. ined. (nomen ineditum). A name that does not appear to have been properly published in accordance with conditions under Art. 29-50 ICN.
  • nom. inval. (nomen invalidum). A name not validly published according to Art. 29-45 ICN or H.9 ICN (Art. 6.2 ICN).
  • nom. nov. (nomen novum, replacement name, avowed substitute). A nomen novum (new name) is a replacement name based on a legitimate or illegitimate, previously published name. The previous name is its replaced synonym and, when legitimate, does not provide the final epithet, name, or stem of the replacement name. New names are created in order to avoid homonymy or creation of tautonyms. (Art. 6.11 ICN).
  • nom. nud. (nomen nudum). A "naked name". A name of a new taxon published without a description or diagnosis, nor with reference to a description or diagnosis (Art. 50B.1 ICN).
  • nom. obl. (nomen oblitum, plural: nomina oblita). Latin for "forgotten name". In zoological nomenclature, a nomen oblitum is a disused scientific name which has been declared to be obsolete (figuratively "forgotten") in favour of another "protected" name; a nomen protectum.
  • nom. praeocc. (nomen praeoccupatum). Name preoccupied, i.e., already published for another taxon.
  • nom. prot. (nomen protectum). Latin for "protected name". In zoological nomenclature, a nomen protectum is declared to be protected, against a nomen oblitum.
  • nom. prov. or nom. provis. (nomen provisorium). Provisional name.
  • nom. rej. (nomen rejiciendum). A name rejected in favour of a name conserved under Art. 14 ICN or a name ruled as rejected under Art. 56 ICN (App. II, III, IV, and V).
  • nom. rej. prop. (nomen rejiciendum propositum). Proposed rejected name.
  • nom. seminud. (nomen seminudum). Published with little diagnosis or description, thus leaving it in doubt whether or not it is a name.
  • nom. subnud. (nomen subnudum). Published with a dubious diagnosis or description, thus leaving it in doubt whether or not it is a name.
  • nom. superfl. (nomen superfluum). Superfluous name; usually used for illegitimate names where the correct name or basionym is mentioned at the time of publication.
  • nom. supp. (nomen suppressum). Suppressed name; used for names suppressed by an ICZN Opinion or equivalent act.
  • nom. utique rej. prop. (nomen utique rejiciendum propositum). Name proposed for rejection to the ICBN (Art. 56.1), because otherwise it would cause a disadvantageous nomenclatural change.
  • non design. (non designatus). Not designated.
  • non vidi (n. v.). Not seen. Usually refers to a protologue or description of a taxon that is difficult to locate and hence verify. In the literature refers to a specimen, usually a type, that the author couldn't physically examine.


  • op. cit. (opus citatum/opere citato). Refers to a publication previously cited or a cited work.
  • opus utiq. oppr./opera utiq. oppr. (Opus utique oppressum/Opera utique oppressa). Works, ruled as suppressed. In these names, in specified ranks, are not validly published. "Opus" is singular, "opera" is plural.
  • opus utiq. rej./opera utiq. rej. (Opus utique rejectum/Opera utique rejectum). Works, ruled as rejected. In these names, in specified ranks, are not validly published. "Opus" is singular, "opera" is plural.
  • orth. cons. (orthographia conservanda). Conserved orthographic variant.
  • orth. emend. (orthographia emendata). Orthography emended in accordance with ICBN requirements.
  • orth. err. Orthography error correctable in accordance with ICBN requirements.
  • orth. var. Orthographic variant.
  • orthochresonymA chresonym appropriately used to designate a taxon according to the relevant Acts, but the name is not accepted, or has become superfluous. Examples at Wikipedia.
  • ordo. nov. (ordo novus). Newly published or proposed novel order.


  • parahomonyms Under ICN, names that are similar enough that they are likely to be confused, are also considered to be homonymous (Art. 53.3). For the zoological code has a set of spelling variations (Art. 58) that are considered to be identical.
  • paralectotype In botany a specimen prior to lectotypification included among the syntypes, other than the chosen lectotype and isolectotypes. Duplicates are isoparalectotype(s). Not covered by ICN.
  • paratype In both zoology and botany it is a specimen of an organism that helps define what the scientific name of a taxon actually represents. However, it is not the holotype and in botany it is also neither an isotype nor a syntype. Also, see allotype.
  • p.p. or pro parte "In part", regarding synonyms caused by subdivided taxa and circumscriptional changes.
  • preocc. ([nomen] praeoccupatum). Preoccupied, i.e. name already published for another taxon.
  • pro gen. (pro genus). As genus.
  • pro hybr. or pro hybrid. (pro hybrido). As hybrid.
  • pro sp. (pro specie). As species.
  • pro syn. (pro synonymo). As synonym.
  • protologue first valid description: formal description of a newly discovered taxon, usually in the form of a scientific paper
  • protonym In zoology, the first name used for a taxon. Equivalent to basionym in botany, and basonym in bacteriology.
  • pv. (pathovar). Added before the name of a pathovar — a bacterial strain or set of strains with the same or similar characteristics — in bacteriology, e.g. Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. citri.


  • quoad typum With respect or pertaining to the type of a taxon. Commonly found in association with p.p. or pro parte, as p.p. quoad typum or p.p. (quoad typum).


  • rank The following endings indicate rank in botanical nomenclature:
    • -obiotina = subkingdom
    • -ophytanae = superdivision or superphylum
    • -ophyta = division or phylum
    • -ophytina = subdivision
    • -opsida = class
    • -idea = subclass
    • -anae = superordo
    • -ales = ordo
    • -ineae = subordo
    • -ariae = superfamilia
    • -aceae = familia
    • -indae = supersubfamilia
    • -oideae = subfamilia
    • -odae = supertribus
    • -eae = tribus
    • -odinae = supersubtribus
    • -inae = subtribus
  • replaced synonym The previously published, legitimate or illegitimate name on which a replacement name (nomen novum) is based. When legitimate, the replaced synonym does not provide the final epithet, name, or stem of the replacement name.


  • sanctioned name In botany, a name defined under the Code (Art. F.3) as used in certain works by Persoon and Fries. These names are treated as though conserved against earlier homonyms and synonyms, but can still be conserved, rejected or protected in their own right. The earlier names are also not considered illegitimate.
  • sensu auct. (sensu auctorum). As used by the cited author, but specifically excluding the original meaning.
  • serotype or serovar A distinct infraspecific variation within a species of bacteria or virus.
  • s.c. (sine collector). Without an assigned collector's name.
  • s.d. (sine data). Undated.
  • s.l..
    • sensu lato In the wide sense.
    • sine loco Without a location (i.e. where the specimen was collected).
  • s.n. (sine numero).Without a collector-assigned number.
  • s.s., s.str. (sensu stricto). In the narrow sense.
  • sine dign. defin. (sine dignitate definita). Unranked taxa.
  • sine descr. (sine descriptione). Without a description in nomenclature.
  • species inquirenda Species of doubtful identity requiring further investigation.
  • sphalm. (sphalmate). By mistake, mistakenly.
  • supra [see "vide supra"]
  • syn. or synonym A scientific name that applies to a taxon that now goes by a different scientific name. Synonyms may arise whenever the same taxon is described and named more than once, independently. They may also arise when existing taxa are changed, as when two taxa are joined to become one, a species is moved to a different genus, a variety is moved to a different species, etc. A synonym is always the synonym of a different scientific name and cannot exist in isolation. One taxon may have several synonyms, but can only have one valid scientific name. An example of this is the domestic dog. It was originally described as Canis aegyptius. Some years later it was redescribed as Canis minor (and several other names), and today it is named Canis lupus familiaris. Hence both Canis aegyptius and Canis minor are synonyms of the now valid scientific name Canis lupus familiaris – but they all apply to the same taxon.
  • Syntype In botany, any specimen cited in the protologue when there is no holotype, or any one of two or more specimens simultaneously designated as types (Art. 9.5 ICN). In zoology, each specimen of a type series (q.v.) from which neither a holotype nor a lectotype has been designated [Arts. 72.1.2, 73.2, 74 ICZN]. The syntypes collectively constitute the name-bearing type.


  • t., tab., tabula Plate, used in bibliography to refer to a numbered illustration. That illustration may be used as a division (some work have unnumbered pages matched to numbered plates) or constitute in and of itself valid publication of a name (under ICZN article 12.2.7 or ICNafp article 38.7).
  • tautonym A tautonym is a scientific name of a species in which both parts of the name have the same spelling, as Pica pica. It is permissible in zoological nomenclature but prohibited in botanical taxonomy.
  • tax. nov. (taxon novum). A new taxon.
  • t.b.c. To be confirmed.
  • topotype A specimen from the type locality.
  • typ. cons. (typus conservandus). With a conserved type.
  • typus or type A particular specimen (or in rare cases a group of specimens) to which the scientific name is formally attached. The type is an example that serves to anchor a particular scientific name in a particular taxon.
  • Type genus genus from which the name of a family or subfamily is formed. The type genus is not necessarily the most representative, but is usually the earliest described, largest or best known. In botany type genus has no formal standing, but this is not the case in zoology.
  • Type locality The geographical location where a type specimen was originally found.
  • Type species Each genus must have a designated type species with which it is permanently associated. In botany type species has no formal standing, but this is not the case in zoology.


  • Unplaced name Names that currently cannot be accepted, nor can they be put into a synonymy. This may be because the name is not validly published, or it is a later homonym and therefore illegitimate or because it is a species whose genus name is not accepted. See also comb. ined. and nom. ined.


  • varietas (var., plural form varietates) "variety", a taxonomic rank below that of species and subspecies, but above that of form.
  • vide "see" or "refer to", used in scholarly citations.
    • vide infra (v. i.) "see below", used in scholarly works.
    • vide supra (v. s.) "see above", used in scholarly works. Sometimes truncated to supra.
  • videlicet (viz) contraction of "videre licet" ("one may see", "it is permitted to see") and sometimes used instead of vide infra.

See also