Dictionary > Specific epithet

Specific epithet

noun, plural: specific epithets
The second part of the binomial name of a particular species
In taxonomy, a species is assigned a particular name called binomial (or scientific) name. The binomial name of a species is based on the binomial nomenclature system. It has to have two parts, i.e. the genus name and the specific epithet. For example, in Escherichia coli (the binomial name of a certain bacterial species), the genus name is Escherichia and the specific epithet is the coli.
The genus name and the specific epithet are often based on the species’ distinctive features or descriptions derived from Latin and Greek languages. The specific epithet begins in small letter whereas the genus name starts in a capital letter. Both the genus name and the specific epithet are in italicized form. The genus name may be abbreviated but not the specific epithet. For instance, the scientific name for cat, Felis domesticus, can be abbreviated into F. domesticus.
In botany, the specific epithet also pertains to the second part of the botanical name. For example, in Allium cepa (scientific name for onion), the genus name is Allium and the specific epithet is the cepa.

  • specific name (zoology)
  • trivial name (zoology)
  • species epithet (zoology)

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