French speakers, please make a choice ("taxonomie" vs. "taxinomie")


In French, we can say “taxonomie” or “taxinomie,” “taxonomique” or “taxinomique.” According to Antidote, “taxonomie” makes up 54% of occurrences vs. “taxinomie” 46%; “taxonomique,” 58%, “taxinomique,” 42%.

If you want to know more on the topic, there is this article from 2005: . The article concludes that “l’usage, à l’encontre de la rigueur, consacre actuellement taxonomie.”

Can we choose one term over the other and stick to it? I propose a majority vote with the results one week from now. I will abstain unless the end result is a draw. Does that work for everybody? Please cast your vote in a comment.

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I thought that, unlike English, French was supposed to have some kind of regulatory academy to take an official side on matters of proper terminology and spelling. Do they not have anything to say on this one? (I would guess the version with an “o” will be seen as an Anglicisation and thus the less preferred option by such official bodies.)


The notion that the Académie française acts as the language police for French is a common misconception. To answer your question, the Académie hasn’t officially weighed in on the taxonomie/taxinomie issue, but a quick search on their website shows the following: “Taxinomie” comes up 6 times, while “taxonomie” appears twice. “Taxinomique” is mentioned 9 times, but “taxonomique” doesn’t appear at all.


It seems that “taxonomie” doesn’t derive from English but just ‘improper’ use of Greek roots when the concept was created.
Now, despite what any authorities might say, I don’t think etymology is the ultimate deciding factor, and use is much more significant, so a poll might be a good idea, but I’m not sure a forum post like this is the best avenue for that

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According to the trésor de la langue française:

  • if you follow the French Academy of Sciences it’s taxinomie
  • but most biologists use taxonomie.


L’Académie des Sciences déconseille l’anglicisme taxonomie qui est cependant la forme la plus fréq. utilisée par les biologistes.

Why should we choose?

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This is an old debate, both are acceptable but I only use “taxinomie”, which is the etymologically correct one. The use of “taxonomie” is probably influenced by English as all the scientific literature use this language.


“Taxonomie” sounds better to many and is used more often in informal discussions, while “taxinomie” is often viewed as more correct, due to following the greek root “taxis”.

This same issue caused a long debate on Wikipedia, hopefully this doesn’t happen here.
What matters to me is consistency, we need to use the same one everywhere.


En bon français, on dit « taxinomie ». Tax«o»nomie est un anglicisme.


I prefer “taxonomie”, it sounds better. And I don’t think “taxinomie” is more proper or rigorous, it’s just closer to its roots. French, like other language, evolves, and that’s lucky ;-)


Half of English comes from Latin via French. We are 3G ;~)

I also believe (from personal experience) that “taxonomie” is the more used terminology nowadays among naturalists.

For what it’s worth, a “google survey” gives 277,000 results for the “taxinomie” entry vs. 9,990,000 results for the “taxonomie” one (i.e. the latter is 36 times more comonly used on the internet?)

With google, you also have all the tax«o»nomie from German, etc.


good point, I didn’t think of that!

For the reasons detailed above, I consider “taxinomie” as correct and “taxonomie” as incorrect. Influenced by the discussions in English on iNat, I learnt the word “taxinomie” late.

To my opinion, the fact that the incorrect one is more commonly used is not a reason to prefer it.

To be consistent with “taxinomie” we should say “taxin” in French, but no one does!
I didn’t know that this other word exists at all.

This reminds me about most people saying “goulot d’étranglement” (incorrect) instead of “goulet d’étranglement” (correct) just because the word “goulot” (de bouteille) is much more common and because many people simply ignore that the word “goulet” exists at all.


Three points.

  1. Etymology is the study of where words come from, not a set of rules for spelling. The Greek roots of “taxonomie/taxinomie” are clear enough, but that doesn’t compel any particular form or structure to the word. If it did, pretty much every western European country and other countries that speak languages that originated in them would have to rewrite huge tracts of their dictionaries, given the influence of Greek and Latin on their vocabularies and the haphazard manner in which those roots have been rendered in modern languages.

  2. The English “taxonomy” is a borrowing from French. The French word was coined by Augustin-Pyramus de Candolle, a Swiss botanist employed at a French University, writing (in French) in his Théorie Élémentaire de la Botanique. It was adopted quickly. For example, Isidore Geoffroy St.-Hilaire, son of Étienne Geoffroy St.-Hilaire and, among other things, rector of the University of Paris and a member of the French Academy of Sciences, used the spellings interchangeably, sometimes in the same article. Claims that it is an Anglicism have no historical basis.

  3. iNat refuses to allow its members to invent new common names because, among other things, it is outside the organization’s mission and it would be a source of disagreement that would overtax iNat’s moderation and curation. If that’s out of bounds, debates about spelling of technical terms seem like they probably should be, as well.


I couldn’t care less, languages are what people make of them. In French – as in many other languages – there are different spellings for a variety of things (clé taxinomique des nénufars, or clef taxonomique des nénuphars? chocolatine, or pain au chocolat?) and I think it’s beautiful.


Do I understand correctly that your vote is to alternate between ‘taxinomie’ and ‘taxonomie’ in the UI? How do we keep track :-)

Agreed, but we still have to spell those words in the UI.

So far, we have:
Taxinomie - @tommy_andriollo @t_e_d @jeanphilippeb
Taxonomie - @yvesbas @tkoffel

“Taxinomie” it is (for now)! Thank you all for your contributions and opinions. Your input is appreciated.

It’s advisable to maintain consistency in the UI, or in any document for that matter, as alternating between these words may be confusing for users, especially those unfamiliar with either term.

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Where would you prefer to conduct this poll? I thought the forum was the appropriate space for troubleshooting among Crowdin translators.