[ klas-uh-fi-key-shuhn ]
See synonyms for: classificationclassificatory on

  1. the act of classifying.

  2. the result of classifying or being classified.

  1. one of the groups or classes into which things may be or have been classified.

  2. Biology. the assignment of organisms to groups within a system of categories distinguished by structure, origin, etc. The usual series of categories is phylum (or, especially in botany, division), class, order, family, genus, species, and variety.

  3. the category, as restricted, confidential, secret, or top secret, to which information, a document, etc., is assigned, as by a government or military agency, based on the degree of protection considered necessary to safeguard it from unauthorized use.

  4. Library Science. any of various systems for arranging books and other materials, especially according to subject or format.

Origin of classification

1780–90; <Latin classi(s) class + -fication

Other words from classification

  • clas·si·fi·ca·to·ry [kluh-sif-i-kuh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee, klas-uh-fi- or, especially British, klas-uh-fi-key-tuh-ree], /kləˈsɪf ɪ kəˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i, ˈklæs ə fɪ- or, especially British, ˌklæs ə fɪˈkeɪ tə ri/, adjective
  • cla·si·fi·ca·to·ri·ly, adverb
  • clas·si·fi·ca·tion·al, adjective
  • mis·clas·si·fi·ca·tion, noun
  • non·clas·si·fi·ca·tion, noun
  • o·ver·clas·si·fi·ca·tion, noun
  • pre·clas·si·fi·ca·tion, noun

Words Nearby classification Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use classification in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for classification


/ (ˌklæsɪfɪˈkeɪʃən) /

  1. systematic placement in categories

  2. one of the divisions in a system of classifying

  1. biology

    • the placing of animals and plants in a series of increasingly specialized groups because of similarities in structure, origin, molecular composition, etc, that indicate a common relationship. The major groups are domain or superkingdom, kingdom, phylum (in animals) or division (in plants), class, order, family, genus, and species

    • the study of the principles and practice of this process; taxonomy

  2. government the designation of an item of information as being secret and not available to people outside a restricted group

Origin of classification

C18: from French; see class, -ify, -ation

Derived forms of classification

  • classificational, adjective
  • classificatory, adjective

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for classification


[ klăs′ə-fĭ-kāshən ]

  1. The systematic grouping of organisms according to the structural or evolutionary relationships among them. Organisms are normally classified by observed similarities in their body and cell structure or by evolutionary relationships based on the analysis of sequences of their DNA. See more at cladistics Linnean. See Table at taxonomy.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.