The Impact of Science on the Victorian Vocabulary

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File:William Whewell.jpg William Whewell in the 1860s

In 1834, the words ‘scientist’ and ‘physicist’ were coined by Reverend William Whewell. Previously, the practitioners of science had been known as ‘natural philosophers’ or ‘men of science’; I prefer ‘scientist’ as it is a gender neutral term as well as more accurate than ‘natural philosopher’. Whewell was a polymath, neologist, scientist, science historian, philosopher, poet and Anglican priest, as well as a Master of Trinity College in Cambridge. His breadth and depth of knowledge was astounding. He coined many words that would come to dominate the vocabulary of the 19th and 20th centuries; his didn’t just coin the terms ‘scientist’, ‘physicist’, he suggested the terms ‘ion’, ‘dielectric’, ‘anode’, and ‘cathode’ to Michael Faraday. This is what happens when you have a brilliant rational mind who is also a poet … magic happens. He used the word ‘artist’ to inspire ‘Scientist’ and physicist’…

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