Natural Words -
A Dictionary for Naturalists
From the Foreword: As biologists and environmental educators, we recognize the terminology of our trade is often foreign to those who seek to learn more about the natural world. In compiling this small book we hope to address that issue. We would like to think that Natural Words is a dictionary for naturalists (naturalist – student of natural history, as a hobby or professionally). By definition, natural history is the study of living organisms and their non-living environment, usually by observation. The book contains those unique words that one might hear in a ranger’s campfire talk, or read in a conservation magazine or scientific article. They express the physical description, behavior, classification, and life history of living organisms. They illustrate the environment in which the organisms are found. Simply put, this small dictionary is geared toward all nature lovers with an interest in learning the terminology used to relate to the natural world.
Many sources were consulted to craft definitions that best fit the purpose of this book. Some words have multiple meanings. In these cases, only those definitions relevant to natural history are used. Definitions often include words that are defined elsewhere in the text. When this occurs these words are italicized at their first mention in a definition to provide additional context. Examples are also included in many case to aid understanding. Of course, many more relevant words could be added to this dictionary (and perhaps will be in future editions), but we hope that those included here will provide a foundation of Natural Words.