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List of Latin and Greek words commonly used in systematic names

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Title: List of Latin and Greek words commonly used in systematic names  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Glossary of botanical terms, Sativus (disambiguation), Lists of words, Sativum (disambiguation), Etymologies
Collection: Etymologies, Greek Words and Phrases, Latin Words and Phrases, Lists of Words
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

List of Latin and Greek words commonly used in systematic names

This list of Latin and Greek words commonly used in systematic names is intended to help those unfamiliar with classical languages to understand and remember the scientific names of organisms. The binomial nomenclature used for animals and plants is largely derived from Latin and Greek words, as are some of the names used for higher taxa, such as orders and above. At the time when biologist Carolus Linnaeus (1707–1778) published the books that are now accepted as the starting point of binomial nomenclature, Latin was used in Western Europe as the common language of science, and scientific names were in Latin or Greek: Linnaeus continued this practice.

Although Latin is now largely unused except by classical scholars, or for certain purposes in botany, medicine and the Roman Catholic Church, it can still be found in scientific names. It is helpful to be able to understand the source of scientific names. Although the Latin names do not always correspond to the current English common names, they are often related, and if their meanings are understood, they are easier to recall. The binomial name often reflects limited knowledge or hearsay about a species at the time it was named. For instance Pan troglodytes, the chimpanzee, and Troglodytes troglodytes, the wren, are not necessarily cave-dwellers.

Often a genus name or specific descriptor is simply the Latin or Greek name for the animal (e.g. Canis is Latin for dog). These words are not included in the table below, because they will only occur for one or two taxa. Instead, the words listed below are the common adjectives and other modifiers that repeatedly occur in the scientific names of many organisms (in more than one genus).

Adjectives vary according to gender, and only the reference form (nominative singular masculine form) is mainly listed here. 1st/2nd-declension adjectives end in -us (masculine), -a (feminine) and -um (neuter), whereas 3rd-declension adjectives ending in -is (masculine and feminine) change to -e (neuter). For example, verus is listed without the variants for Aloe vera or Galium verum.

Words that are very similar to their English forms have been omitted.

Some of the Greek transliterations given are Ancient Greek, and others are Modern Greek.

In the tables, L = Latin, G = Greek, and LG = similar in both languages.


  • A 1
  • B 2
  • C 3
  • D 4
  • E 5
  • F 6
  • G 7
  • H 8
  • I–K 9
  • L 10
  • M 11
  • N 12
  • O 13
  • P 14
  • Q 15
  • R 16
  • S 17
  • T 18
  • U 19
  • V 20
  • W–Z 21
  • See also 22
  • References 23
  • External links 24


Latin/Greek Language English Example
acutus L sharpened, pointed American crocodile, Crocodylus acutus; Angled sunbeam (butterfly), Curetis acuta; Northern pintail duck, Anas acuta
agrestis L of the field, wild field vole, Microtus agrestis; green field-speedwell, Veronica agrestis
alatus L ala winged pitcher plant, Nepenthes alata; sharpwing monkeyflower, Mimulus alatus; winged elm, Ulmus alata; winged everlasting, Ammobium alatum; winged loosestrife, Lythrum alatum; winged seahorse, Hippocampus alatus; winged-stem passion flower, Passiflora alata
albopictus L painted white Hosta fortunei 'Albopicta', Aedes albopictus
albus L white American white ibis, Eudocimus albus; white oak, Quercus alba; mistletoe, Viscum album
amblys G ἀμβλύς (amblýs) blunt, dull Marine iguana, Amblyrhynchus cristatus
americanus L American American black bear, Ursus americanus; American hazel nut, Corylus americana
amphi- G ἀμφί (amphí) of all kinds, on all sides amphibian; Amphipoda
ampulla L bottle, flask northern bottlenose whale, Hyperoodon ampullatus
angustus L narrow narrowleaf cottongrass, Eriophorum angustifolium; narrowleaf cottonwood, Populus angustifolia
anthos G ἄνθος (ánthos) flower anthozoans, Anthozoa; golden wattle, Acacia pycnantha; mums, Chrysanthemum
anthropo- G ἄνθρωπος (ánthrōpos) man, human being Paranthropus
apis L bee white sage, Salvia apiana
aquaticus L found near water eastern mole, Scalopus aquaticus
arborescens L tree-like or shrub-like Artemisia arborescens; Aloe arborescens; Hydrangea arborescens
archaeo- G ἀρχαῖος (arkhaîos) ancient Archaeopteryx
arctos G ἄρκτος (árktos) bear grizzly bear, Ursus arctos horribilis; common bearberry, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
argentatus L silvery herring gull, Larus argentatus
arthro- G ἄρθρον (árthron) joint Arthropoda
arvensis L in the field skylark, Alauda arvensis
astro-, astero- G ἄστρον (ástron) star starfish (class), Asteroidea
atropurpureum L deep purple Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum'; Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea
aureus L golden, gold coins golden jackal, Canis aureus; Staphylococcus aureus (bacteria)
australis L southern southern right whale, Eubalaena australis


Latin/Greek Language English Example
baccatus L berry-bearing common yew, Taxus baccata; Conus baccatus, a sea snail
bios G βίος (bios) life amphibian; biota, all living things
blandus L pleasant, smooth, alluring Greek windflower, Anemone blanda; Mallos blandus, a spider
borealis L northern northern right whale dolphin, Lissodelphis borealis
brachion G βραχίων (brakhiōn) arm Przewalski's gerbil, Brachiones przewalskii; Brachiopoda (phylum); Brachiosaurus
brachy- G βραχύς (brakhus) short Brazilian gold frog, Brachycephalus didactylus
brady- G βραδύς (bradus) slow pygmy three-toed sloth, Bradypus pygmaeus
branchia LG βράγχιον (brankhion) gills Lamellibranchia (class, syn. Bivalva); Branchiopoda (class, brine shrimps)
brevi- L brevis short silvery-cheeked hornbill, Ceratogymna brevis; Joshua tree, Yucca brevifolia


Latin/Greek Language English Example
caecus L blind blind mole, Talpa caeca; northern eyed hawkmoth, Smerinthus caecus
caeruleus L blue blue tit, Parus caeruleus; blue passion flower, Passiflora caerulea
callosus L calloused large vesper mouse, Calomys callosus; tree fern, Cyathea callosa; orchid, Paphiopedilum callosum
canadensis L from Canada bighorn sheep, Ovis canadensis
canescens L turning grey- or white-haired Geraea canescens (desert sunflower); Atriplex canescens
canis L dog coyote, Canis latrans; Dipylidium caninum (a tapeworm)
canus L gray (haired), pale gray grey-headed woodpecker, Picus canus; woolly groundsel, Senecio canus
cauda L tail long-tailed tit, Aegithalos caudatus; thintail skate, Dipturus leptocaudus
caulos G καυλός (kaulos) stem, stalk stemless gentian, Gentiana acaulis
cephalo- G κεφαλή (kephalē) head Mediterranean gull, Larus melanocephalus; blue-spotted grouper, Cephalopholis argus
-ceps L caput head pygmy sperm whale, Kogia breviceps; biceps (two-headed muscle)
ceros L cornū G κέρας (keras) horn narwal, Monodon monoceros; Rhinoceros (nose horn)
cest L cestus G κεστός (kestos) girdle, belt, stitched Cestoda
chaetes G χαίτη (khaítē) flowing hair, or mane wildebeest, Connochaetes gnou
chilensis L from Chile paradise tanager, Tangara chilensis
chloro- G χλωρός (khlōros) pale green common moorhen, Gallinula chloropus
chroma G χρῶμα (khrōma) color clown loach, Chromobotia macracanthus
cirrhus G κιρρός (kirrós) orange fringe-lipped bat, Trachops cirrhosus; mrigal carp, Cirrhinus cirrhosus; silverspotted sculpin, Blepsias cirrhosus
cneme G κνήμη (kními) shin, leg white-legged damselfly, Platycnemis pennipes
-cola L colō dweller Eurasian woodcock, Scolopax rusticola; Northern chequered skipper, Carterocephalus silvicola; paddyfield warbler, Acrocephalus agricola; rock thrushes, Monticola
conno- G κόννος (kónnos) beard wildebeest, Connochaetes gnou
corax L corvus G κόραξ (koraks) crow, raven common raven, Corvus corax
cornu L cornū horn garden snail, Cornu aspersum
coronatus L crowned crowned lemur, Eulemur coronatus
costatus L ribbed striped Raphael catfish, Platydoras costatus
crassus L thick creeping blueberry, Vaccinium crassifolium
cristatus L crested aardwolf, Proteles cristatus; blue jay, Cyanocitta cristata; crested wheatgrass, Agropyron cristatum
crocos G κρόκος (krokos) yellow saffron, Crocus sativus; bicoloured white-toothed shrew, Crocidura leucodon
cyanos G κυανός (kyanós) blue-green azure-winged magpie, Cyanopica cyana; blue orchid, Aganisia cyanea


Latin/Greek Language English Example
dactyl-, dactylo- G δάκτυλος (dáktulos) finger or toe black-legged kittiwake, Rissa tridactyla
deca-, deka- G δέκα (déka) ten alfonsino, Beryx decadactylus
decem L ten Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata
delphis G δελφύς (delphús) womb Didelphis virginiana
derma G δέρμα (dérma) skin Yellow staining mushroom, Agaricus xanthodermus
di- G δι- (di-) two Christmas orchid, Dipodium punctatum
dino-, deino- G δεινός (deinós) terrible dinosaur, Deinotherium
diplo- G διπλός (diplós) double two-eyed orange spider, Diploglena capensis
disc, disk G δίσκος (dískos) disc common fungus moth, Metalectra discalis
dodeca- G δώδεκα (dōdeka) twelve Henderson's shootingstar, Dodecatheon hendersonii
dolicho- G δολιχός (dolikhós) elongated, long knight anole, Anolis dolichocephalus
domesticus L house, domestic house sparrow, Passer domesticus; domestic pig, Sus scrofa domestica
dorsum L back back-striped weasel, Mustela strigidorsa
dulcis L sweet almond, Prunus dulcis


Latin/Greek Language English Example
eburnea L eburneus ivory-colored ivory gull, Pagophila eburnea
echinatus L prickly, spiny Edisto crayfish, Procambarus echinatus; shortleaf pine, Pinus echinata
echino- L echīnus G ἐχῖνος (ekhinos) hedgehog, sea-urchin great globe thistle, Echinops sphaerocephalus; diadema urchin, Echinothrix diadema; San Pedro cactus, Echinopsis pachanoi
edulis L edible common cockle, Cerastoderma edule; king bolete, Boletus edulis; oyster, Ostrea edulis; passion fruit, Passiflora edulis
elatior L taller true oxlip, Primula elatior
electr- G ἤλεκτρον (ēlektron)
  1. amber, amber-colored;
  2. electric (modern usage)
broad-billed motmot, Electron platyrhynchum;
electric eel, Electrophorus electricus
elegans L elegant crimson rosella, Platycercus elegans
enantios G ἐναντίος (enantíos) opposite, against Enantiornithes
ennea G ἐννέα (ennē) nine banded sunfish Enneacanthus obesus; scurvy-grass sorrel, Oxalis enneaphylla
ensatus L sword-like California giant salamander, Dicamptodon ensatus
ensis, ensi- L sword, lance jackknife clam, Ensis minor; swordleaf rush, Juncus ensifolius
-ensis L of, from (a place) Tadarida brasiliensis (Brazilian free-tailed bat); Lucy, Australopithecus afarensis
erectus L upright Homo erectus ("upright man"); upright chickweed, Moenchia erecta
erio- G ἔριον (érion) wool, woolly common cottongrass, Eriophorum angustifolium
erosus L indented, jagged, serrated jícama, Pachyrhizus erosus; serrated hinge-back tortoise, Kinixys erosa
erythro- G ἐρυθρός (eruthrós) red[1] spotted redshank, Tringa erythropus; dog's-tooth violet, Erythronium dens-canis


Latin/Greek Language English Example
familiaris L domestic, common dog, Canis lupus familiaris
felis L cat black-footed cat, Felis nigripes; cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis
flavus L golden yellow, light yellow yellow pitcher plant, Sarracenia flava; yellow-necked mouse, Apodemus flavicollis
flos, flor- L flower southern magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora; great white trillium, Trillium grandiflorum
fodiens L fodere digging burying beetle, Nicrophorus defodiens; burying beetle, Nicrophorus infodiens; Eurasian water shrew, Neomys fodiens; lowland burrowing tree frog, Smilisca fodiens
folium L leaf American beech, Fagus grandifolia; broad-leaved sermountain, Laserpitium latifolium; Chinese elm, Ulmus parvifolia; Joshua tree, Yucca brevifolia; upright snottygobble, Persoonia longifolia
fragilis L frangere breakable brittle bladder-fern, Cystopteris fragilis; brittle willow, Salix fragilis; candy cap, Lactarius fragilis; Dientamoeba fragilis; dead man's fingers, Codium fragile; fragile wart frog, Limnonectes fragilis
fulvus L deep yellow, tawny Pacific golden plover, Pluvialis fulva; yellow ground squirrel, Spermophilus fulvus
furcatus L forked swallow-tailed gull, Creagrus furcatus
fuscus L dark, dark brown sooty tern, Sterna fuscata; dusky hopping mouse, Notomys fuscus


Latin/Greek Language English Example
gaster, gastro-, gastr- L gaster G γαστήρ (gastḗr) belly common fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster; Gastropoda
geo- G γαῖα, γῆ (gaîa, gê) Earth Conus geographus, geography cone; Geotrichum
glabra L glaber smooth; hairless[2] smooth sumac, Rhus glabra; Omphiscola glabra (a snail)
glaucus L glaucus G γλαυκός (glaukós) blue-green, blue-gray, gleaming Silvery Blue butterfly, Lepidochrysops glauca; Glaucidae, nudibranch family
glycys G γλυκύς (glukús) sweet soybean, Glycine max
graveolens L gravis strong-smelling common rue, Ruta graveolens; lippia, Lippia graveolens
gyrinos G γυρῖνος (gurînos) tadpole spring salamander Gyrinophilus porphyriticus; e.g. Crassigyrinus, Proterogyrinus


Latin/Greek Language English Example
haema-, hema- G αἷμα (haîma) blood Haemosporida; Bacteria sp., Haemophilus influenzae
hali-, halio- G ἅλς (háls) of the sea, salt Sea eagle, Haliaeetus pelagicus; grey seal, Halichoerus grypus; black abalone, Haliotis cracherodii
haplo- G ἁπλόος (haplóos) simple, single mountain beaver, Apoldontia rufa; Mongolosaurus haplodon
hedra- G ἕδρα (hédrā) seat, facet Chinese ephedra, Ephedra sinica
helio- G ἥλιος (hḗlios) sun sunflower, Helianthus annuus; sun spurge, Euphorbia helioscopia
hexa- G ἕξ (héks) six water primrose, Ludwigia hexapetala
hippo- G ἵππος (híppos) horse seahorse, Hippocampus; lesser horseshoe bat, Rhinolophus hipposideros
hirsutus L hairy hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta; hairy fruit-eating bat, Artibeus hirsutus
homo L human, man modern human, Homo sapiens; Neanderthal, Homo neanderthalensis
hortensis L hortus from the garden broad-leaved anemone, Anemone hortensis; garden orache, Atriplex hortensis; Orphean warbler, Sylvia hortensis
hydro- G ὕδωρ (húdōr) water Chinese water deer, Hydropotes inermis; capybara, Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris
hyper- G ὑπέρ (hupér) over, above St John's wort, Hypericum perforatum
hypo-, hyp- G ὑπό (hupó) under, beneath zebra pleco catfish, Hypancistrus zebra; common cat's-ear, Hypochaeris radicata


Latin/Greek Language English Example
indicus L Indian Malaysian tapir, Tapirus indicus
inedulis L inedible fungus, Caloboletus inedulis


Latin/Greek Language English Example
lac, lact- L milk, sap, milky white Chinese peony, Paeonia lactiflora; milk-caps, Lactifluus; Lactophrys; Aspalathus lactea
lancea L lance swamp lousewort, Pedicularis lanceolata
lateralis L side black-flanked rock-wallaby, Petrogale lateralis
latus L flank; broad horse-eye jack, Caranx latus; wideleaf waterparsnip, Sium latifolium; wych elm, Ulmus glabra 'Latifolia Aurea'
lepis G λεπίς (lepís) scale, rind, husk, flake large-scale mullet, Liza macrolepis; Lepidoptera
lepton G λεπτόν (leptón) light Leptictidium auderiense, Leptospira kirschneri
lepus L hare black-tailed jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
leuco- G λευκός (leukós) white white-winged tern, Chlidonias leucopterus
lineatus L lined or striped Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata
lobos L lobus G λοβός (lovós) lobe three-lobe buttercup, Ranunculus trilobus
luteus L yellow, saffron-colored yellow mariposa lily, Calochortus luteus; yellow vetch, Vicia lutea; red-billed leiothrix, Leiothrix lutea


Latin/Greek Language English Example
macro- G μακρός (makrós) long, large big-headed mole rat, Tachyoryctes macrocephalus
maculatus L spotted spotted sandpiper, Actitis macularius
major L greater great tit, Parus major
malabaricus L from Malabar chestnut-tailed starling, Sturnus malabaricus
marginatus L bordered gold edge Japanese euonymus, Euonymus japonicus 'Aureomarginatus'
mauro- G μαυρός (maurós) dark, black dark shrew, Crocidura maurisca
maximus L largest royal tern, Sterna maxima
mega- G μέγας (mégas) large, great megalodon shark, Carcharodon megalodon
mel L honey black sage, Salvia mellifera; Nephelium melliferum; western honey bee, Apis mellifera
mephitis L bad odor striped skunk, Mephitis mephitis
melano- G μελανός (melanós) black black-browed albatross, Thalassarche melanophris
micro- G μικρός (mikrós) small littleleaf pussytoes, Antennaria microphylla
microphylla G small-leaved Salvia microphylla; Buxus microphylla; Azara microphylla
minimus L smallest least flycatcher, Empidonax minimus
minor L smaller great frigatebird, Fregata minor
monile L necklace Conus monilifer
mono- G μόνος (mónos) single Swinhoe's storm-petrel, Oceanodroma monorhis; Monotreme
montanus L mons mountains tree sparrow, Passer montanus
morpho- G μορφή (morphḗ) shape Menelaus blue morpho, Morpho menelaus
mus, mys L mūs G μῦς (mûs) mouse house mouse, Mus musculus; as rodent, e.g. Phoberomys, Telicomys.


Latin/Greek Language English Example
nanos G νᾶνος (nânos) L nanus dwarf brown-capped woodpecker, Dendrocopos nanus; dwarf birch, Betula nana; dwarf shrew, Sorex nanus
niger, nigr- L black black softshell turtle, Nilssonia nigricans; black-footed albatross, Phoebastria nigripes; black-spined Atlantic tree-rat, Phyllomys nigrispinus
nitidus L nitere shining Baja cape kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula nitida; Mauritius blue pigeon, Alectroenas nitidissima; shining pea clam, Pisidium nitidum; shining tree iguana, Liolaemus nitidus
nonus L ninth honey fungus, Armillaria nabsnona
nothos G νόθος (nóthos) L nothus false, wrong bluefin notho killifish, Nothobranchius rachovii; New Zealand red beech, Nothofagus fusca
notos G νότος (nótos) southern fawn hopping mouse, Notomys cervinus
novaehollandiae L from New Holland (Australia) emu, Dromaius novaehollandiae
novaeseelandiae L from New Zealand southern boobook Ninox novaeseelandiae
noveboracensis L from New York (Novum Eboracum) northern waterthrush, Seiurus noveboracensis
novem L nine nine-banded armadillo, Dasypus novemcinctus; nine-spotted lady beetle, Coccinella novemnotata


Latin/Greek Language English Example
obscurus L dark dusky dolphin, Lagenorhynchus obscurus
occidentalis L western eastern arborvitae, Thuja occidentalis
ocean G ὠκεανός (ōkeanós) ocean Posidonia oceanica
octo-, octa- G ὀκτω- ὀκτα- eight common octopus, Octopus vulgaris
-odon, -odus G ὀδών (odṓn), ὀδούς (odoús) tooth Dimetrodon, Rhizodus
oeso- G οἰσέμεν (oisémen), οἰσ- carry Oesophagostomum, Oesophagostomum bifurcum
officinalis L for the workshop; medicinal rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis;
Zingiber officinale
oleum, olearis L oil jack o'lantern mushroom, Omphalotus olearius
ophis G ὄφις (óphis) serpent Carphophis vermis, Western wormsnake
ops G ὤψ (ōps) face, eye Triceratops
-opsis G ὄψις (ópsis) resembling Carolina parakeet, Conuropsis carolinensis
orientalis L eastern oriental cockroach, Blatta orientalis
ortho- G ὀρθός (orthós) straight Orthoptera
oryza G ὄρυζα (óruza) rice Asian rice, Oryza sativa; rice rats, Oryzomys


Latin/Greek Language English Example
pachy- G παχύς (pakhus) thick, stout Pachycephalosaurus
palustris L paluster of the marsh mugger crocodile, Crocodylus palustris; marsh marigold, Caltha palustris
pan- panto- G πᾶν (pan) all Pancratium (a flower); Pangaea
parviflorus L small-flowered small-flowered mallow, Malva parviflora; thimbleberry, Rubus parviflorus
parvus L small mountain pygmy possum, Burramys parvus
pecten L comb Venus comb murex, Murex pecten
ped L pēs foot showy lady slipper, Cypripedium reginae
pelag L pelagicus, G πελαγικός open sea pelagic cormorant, Phalacrocorax pelagicus
penn- L penna feather, wing great auk, Pinguinus impennis
penta- G πέντε (pénte) five five-fingered skink, Chalcides pentadactylus
petra L G πέτρα (pétra) rock, stone rock daisy, Erigeron petrophilus; Roberts's flat-headed bat, Sauromys petrophilus
phago G φάγο eat African scat (fish), Scatophagus tetracanthus; Ichthyophaga, the ("fish-eating") sea eagle; hematophagy
pholis G φολίς (pholís) horny scale green-spotted grouper, Cephalopholis argus
phyllo- G φύλλον (phúllon) leaf garden lupin, Lupinus polyphyllus
physi- G φύσις (phúsis) nature Symphysia ("naturally joined") (a plant)[3]
phyto- G φυτόν (phutón) plant Astrophytum, Astrophytum myriostigma (a cactus); epiphyte
pictus L pictus painted Pimelodus pictus, a catfish; Abutilon pictum, a shrub
platy- G πλατύς (platús) flat and broad flathead trout, Salmo platycephalus; platypus
pod- G πούς (poús) foot, leg, stem red-footed spikesedge, Eleocharis erythropoda; Arthropoda; Gastropoda
poly- G πολύς (polús) many common knotgrass, Polygonum aviculare; polymer
praecox L early Chimonanthus praecox (wintersweet); Melanotaenia praecox (neon rainbow); Dementia praecox (premature dementia)
pratensis L of the meadow meadow foxtail, Alopecurus pratensis
proto- G πρῶτος (prôtos) first Protozoa
pruriens L itching velvet bean, Mucuna pruriens
pseudo- L G ψευδής (pseudḗs) false or fake pastel flower, Pseuderanthemum variabile
pterus, -pter G πτερόν (pterón) wing, feather white-winged tern, Chlidonias leucopterus; Pteranodon (winged toothless); Pterodactylus (winged finger); Pteridophyta; Diptera; Coleoptera
pubescens L downy downy oak, Quercus pubescens
pugilis L pugil fighting fighting conch, Strombus pugilis
pulchellus L pretty little[4] green pygmy goose, Nettapus pulchellus
punctatus L spotted, marked with punctures thirteen-spotted lady beetle, Hippodamia tredecimpunctata
pygo- G πυγή (pugḗ) tail, rump chinstrap penguin, Pygoscelis antarctica


Latin/Greek Language English Example
quadri- L quattuor four, square Festuca quadriflora (four-flowered), Lysimachia quadrifolia (four-leaved)


Latin/Greek Language English Example
rāmus L branch branched draba, Draba ramosissima; branched murex, Chicoreus ramosus
repand L repandus curved upwards, turned up Peruvian apple cactus, Cereus repandus; hedgehog mushroom, Hydnum repandum
repens L 1. creeping, crawling (rēpens);
2. unexpected (rĕpens)
creeping buttercup, Ranunculus repens; white clover, Trifolium repens
reptans L creeping, crawling Potentilla reptans (creeping cinquefoil); Ajuga reptans (bugle); Reptilia
rhino- G ῥίς (rhis) nose orange leaf-nosed bat, Rhinonicteris aurantia; Rhinoceros
rhiza G ῥίζα (rhiza) root bushy seedbox, Ludwigia helminthorrhiza; Rhizobium (nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria)
rhynchos G ῥύγχος (rhunkhos) beak or snout mallard, Anas platyrhynchos; Rhamphorhynchus
rhyti G ῥῠτίς (rhutis) wrinkled, folded shaggy moss, Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus; Rhytidodon (syn. Rutiodon)
rigidus L rigid, stiff big galleta, Hilaria rigida
rostra L beak, bill, snout common crossbill, Loxia curvirostra
rostralis L with a beak buttoned snout moth, Hypena rostralis
rubra L ruber red red valerian, Centranthus ruber; summer tanager, Piranga rubra; red maple, Acer rubrum
rufus L reddish, red red wolf, Canis rufus


Latin/Greek Language English Example
sanguis L blood bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis
sapiens L wise recent subspecies of humans: Homo sapiens sapiens ("very wise man")
sativus L sown, cultivated pea, Pisum sativum; rice, Oryza sativa; oat, Avena sativa
saura, -saur G σαῦρος (saûros) lizard, reptile lancetfish, Alepisaurus; Maiasaura (dinosaur)
septem L seven seven-spot ladybird, Coccinella septempunctata
silvestris L of the wood; wild wild cat, Felis silvestris
sinensis L from China tea, Camellia sinensis
speciosus L showy queen's crape-myrtle, Lagerstroemia speciosa; Japanese lily, Lilium speciosum
sperma G σπέρμα (spérma) seed African daisies, Osteospermum
sphen-, spheno- G σφήν (sphḗn) wedge tuatara, Sphenodon punctatus
stoma G στόμα (stóma) mouth, opening stomate, Gnathostomata
striatus L striped striated heron, Butorides striatus
strictus L straight, narrow, erect Oxalis stricta; Babiana stricta; Nardus stricta
strix L owl tawny owl, Strix aluco; tawny frogmouth, Podargus strigoides
suber L cork cork oak, Quercus suber
suchos, -suchus G σοῦχος (soûkhos) crocodile (from Egyptian) Eusuchia, Koolasuchus


Latin/Greek Language English Example
tardus, tardi- L slow, late great bustard, Otis tarda; Chisos Mountains oak, Quercus tardifolia
tele-, tel- G τῆλε (têle) far, distant New South Wales waratah, Telopea speciosissima
tenax L clinging, tenacious bear grass, Xerophyllum tenax
tenuis L thin, slender, fine slender rush, Juncus tenuis; plealeaf knotweed, Polygonum tenue
tetra- G τετρα- four four-leaved allseed, Polycarpon tetraphyllum; Tetrapoda
tinctorius L for dyeing woad, Isatis tinctoria
tomentosus L furry Fuzzy mock orange, Philadelphus tomentosus
tres, tris, tri- L G τρία (tría) three black-legged kittiwake, Rissa tridactyla; three-cornered garlic, Allium triquetrum
tricho-, thrix G θρίξ (thríx), τριχ- (trikh) hair cloud ear fungus, Auricularia polytricha
troglodytes L G τρωγλοδύτης (trōglodútēs) cave-dweller chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes); wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)


Latin/Greek Language English Example
ulmus L elm American elm, Ulmus americana; Siberian elm, Ulmus pumila; Ulmus
ulos G οὖλος (oúlos) woolly Ulotrichi, Ulotrichopus
unus L one Monotropa uniflora
ura G οὐρά (ourá) of the tail mourning dove, Zenaida macroura; coral snake, Micrurus corallinus


Latin/Greek Language English Example
variabilis L variable grey bunting, Emberiza variabilis
variegatus L variegated variegated laughingthrush, Garrulax variegatus; croton, Codiaeum variegatum
velox, velocis L swift swift fox, Vulpes velox; Velociraptor
ventralis L ventral, of the belly Hispaniolan parrot, Amazona ventralis; southern dwarf chameleon, Bradypodion ventrale
vernus, vernalis L spring spring gentian, Gentiana verna; spring pheasant's eye, Adonis vernalis
verrucosus L rough skinned Javan warty pig, Sus verrucosus; reef stonefish, Synanceia verrucosa
versicolor L many-colored varied honeyeater, Lichenostomus versicolor; Vietnam mouse-deer, Tragulus versicolor
verus L true, genuine true aloe, Aloe vera; lady's bedstraw, Galium verum
villosus L hairy, shaggy hairy woodpecker, Picoides villosus; hairy vetch, Vicia villosa
virginiana L Virginia Didelphis virginiana, the possum; Rosa virginiana, the Virginia rose
viridis L green green alder, Alnus viridis; frog orchid, Coeloglossum viride
virosus L poisonous poisonous lettuce, Lactuca virosa; cowbane, Cicuta virosa
volans L flying southern flying squirrel, Glaucomys volans
vulgaris L common common octopus, Octopus vulgaris; common privet, Ligustrum vulgare


Latin/Greek Language English Example
xanthos G ξανθός yellow yellow staining mushroom, Agaricus xanthodermus
zygos G ζυγός joined Zygoptera

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^

External links

  • Latin names decoded with relevant images/photos at
  • Dictionary of botanical epithets
  • European Species Names in Linnaean, Czech, English, German and French
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