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specific epithet

[ spi-sif-ik ep-uh-thet ]
/ spɪˈsɪf ɪk ˈɛp əˌθɛt /
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noun Botany, Zoology.

(in binomial nomenclature) the second part, always lowercased, of a plant or animal species’ scientific name: for example, the species Quercus alba is an oak tree, as all oaks belong to the genus Quercus, but it is the specific epithet alba that identifies the particular species, which is the white oak.

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QUIZ YOURSELF ON "WAS" VS. "WERE"!

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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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Origin of specific epithet

First recorded in 1905–10
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

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