Difference Between Nomenclature and Classification

Nomenclature vs Classification

There are two words in English language commonly used in physical, chemical, and biological sciences. These are nomenclature and classification. Though seemingly innocuous, many remain confused between these two words. This article attempts to clarify the doubts in the minds of the readers regarding the meaning and usage of these two terms.


If there are 50 students in a classroom and the teacher does not know their names, it would be a total chaos in the class, isn’t it? The teacher, without knowing their names, cannot even remember all of them and talk about different students. If one has to deal with a number of files, he has to name them to be able to get to the file directly without any difficulty through the name. In chemistry, there are hundreds of elements and compounds, and unless they are named properly on the basis of their appearance or characteristics, it is impossible to identify them in a crowd. In the botanical world, there are innumerable plants belonging to a particular class, and it makes sense to name them for easy reference as this aid in communication. It is not that nomenclature is arbitrary. Rather the process is totally scientific so as to let us have some primary information about the color, shape of leaves, growing area, method of reproduction, and so on about the plant with just the knowledge of the name.


Again starting with the example of a class teacher, we find that the teacher must make groupings of students to able to know how many are good at studies, how many are good at sports, and how many are good at extracurricular activities. In fact, without classification of her students, she cannot move ahead in applying her teaching principles to different classes of students.

In the botanical world, there are thousands of plants, and if we were to name each and every of these plants, it would be taxing indeed to remember them all the time. This is where classification comes into play and helps us by classifying a large number of plants on the basis of their characteristics. This helps us to narrow down thousands of plants to a few dozen groups to make it easier for us. Similarly, the sheer numbers of organic compounds make classifying them a necessity to move forward.


What is the difference between Nomenclature and Classification?

• Nomenclature is a system in taxonomy where naming of objects, elements, compounds, organisms, and plants makes it easy for students to refer to them in an easy manner and also identify them in a crowd.

• Classification is a system of grouping that allows a student to learn about thousands of objects by putting the in relatively lesser number of groups.