Science Vocabulary

Here is some Science Vocabulary for ESL/EFL students and teachers. I have tried to include words that not only have a scientific application, but also have parallel meanings that are often used in everyday speech. The definitions I have provided however, are the scientific ones.

If you would like to download and print off this Science Vocabulary List, you will find the download button at the bottom of the page.

The Sciences

Physical Science the branches of Science including Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy and Geometry i.e. the study of nature, energy and non-living matter
Physics the science of matter and energy and the interaction between the two
Biology the science of life and of living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, and distribution
Botany the science and study of plants
Zoology the study of animals and animal life
Ecology the science of the relationships between organisms and their environments
Genetics the branch of biology that studies heredity and variation in plants and animals

The Environment

Oxygen the gas that we need to inhale in order to survive
Carbon dioxide plants absorb this gas from the atmosphere, and people exhale it when breathing
Ozone a poisonous gas found high in the earth’s atmosphere. This layer protects the earth from the sun’s radiation.
Greenhouse effect the natural process by which the atmosphere traps some of the Sun's energy, warming the Earth enough to support life
smog a mixture of fog, smoke and chemical fumes
global warming the observed and projected increases in the average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans
fossil fuel petroleum, coal, or natural gas, derived from living matter of a previous geologic time and used for fuel
non-renewable an energy source, such as oil or natural gas, or a natural resource, that is not replaceable after it has been used

Physics and Chemistry

gravity the natural force of attraction exerted by the earth
friction the rubbing of one object or surface against another
resistance a force that tends to oppose or slow down motion
acceleration increasing speed
force a push or a pull
tension the act of stretching
compression the act of pressing together
equation a statement showing the equality of two mathematical expressions, or a representation of a chemical reaction
catalyst a substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected
acid something that has a pH below 7.0
alkaline something that has a pH above 7.0
pH the symbol relating to hydrogen ion (H+) concentration. Below 7.0 is acidic and above 7.0 is alkaline.


condensation the process when something changes from a gas to a solid
dehydration the process of removing water
DNA a nucleic acid which contains genetic information about the human body
cell the smallest structural unit of an organism that is capable of independent functioning
genes the basic biological units of heredity
clone a cell or organism that is a genetically identical copy
parasite a plant or an animal organism that lives in or on another and takes its nourishment from that other organism


vertebrate an animal with a backbone or spinal column
invertebrate an animal without a backbone or spinal column
mammal a warm-blooded vertebrate animals, which have hair on their skin and milk producing glands in the female, like humans
amphibian a cold-blooded smooth skinned vertebrate, that is capable of living in land and on water, like a frog
arachnid an animal with 4 pairs of legs, and a body divided into 2 segments, like spiders and scorpions
reptile a cold-blooded egg-laying vertebrate, like a snake and crocodile
insect a bug, like a fly, bee or ant
carnivore an animal that mainly eats meat
herbivore an animal that mainly eats plants
omnivore an animal that eats meat and plants
predator an animal that attacks and kills other animals for food

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to acquire

to go to town

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

Winston Churchill

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