Synonyms for naturalist

What are some synonyms for naturalist?
Basically, I am looking for more of a word for a person that likes untouched by humans and wild nature.
old growth
antonyms of cultivated?

Why, naturalist and not naturist? What are the differences between the two?

Additionally, I am looking for some words to describe a state of nature that has been unimpeded or unchanged by humans for great lengths of time. That’s what I am really passionate about.


welcome to the forum :)

in British English, naturist = nudist


Thanks for the welcome, I would think the opposite in American English. Naturalist should = nudist.

Naturist = nudist in American English, also. Here’s what the dictionary on my computer says: “naturalist, or naturist?
Unwary naturalists might be embarrassed to come across naturists when they were looking for specimens. Despite their similar spelling, the two words have quite different meanings: a naturalist is someone interested in or knowledgeable about natural history, while naturist is a less common term for nudist.”


Unrelated, but I think anthropomorphized is not the right term here. Anthropomorphic is someting that resembles a human in it’s appearance (like anthropomorphic apes), an environment modified by human activities is anthropized


I agree. I guess I was throwing that word out there to get help the brainstorming started?


Good question. I have been looking for a term to describe myself and my activities too.
Most people dont know what naturalist means. I only learned it about 10 years ago, already middle-aged, when I asked an entomologist I met at a party something about an insect I had seen. Since I used some scientific-ish words or knowledge uncommon amongst most people, he asked what I was, (in a manner of speaking). I said, I am not anything, I just always wonder what something is if I havent seen it before, and sometimes call the Museum or a government department where they find someone to answer my question, or look in books.

He said, then you are a naturalist. I said no, I have no formal learning and dont know much about any particular area. He explained that that was what a naturalist was, and that there are lots of us…whom he occasionally answers questions from, I suppose.

But I too would like a word, to describe the interest and activity of observing more from an ecological point of view, and only locally, where I can see what hapens next. Generally not particularly interested in family relationships or species per se…but needing to know names in order to recognise it again and communicate about it.

In my case it is generally plants, but fauna of course when I see them, and also soil, water, and EARTH. My favourite stuff, I think, and such a mystery package, but I recognise its livingness or otherwise (compacted, sprayed, deprived of plants).

If I knew what I was, I might find out how common I am, or even find a specialized online habitat :) for local liaison.

Perhaps this is a different word-search, but maybe touching on some points in common with you subalpine?

1 Like

Some of us are naturalists and naturists at the same time :grin:


I grew up in an area that before me was only walked seasonally by a handful of Native Americans. I came to appreciate and recognize things like rock formations that were left untouched and eroded down a gentle slope over decades to centuries… true wilderness.
The whole area I grew up in has now been developed and or severely trampled upon in my lifetime. Even the forests that do exist or are getting back to normal continually undergo treatments to prevent forest fires. True succession is not left to happen. Decades after the forest logging, thinning or burn treatments I can still see the logging roads, burn pile pits, or tractor tracks. It’s been quite hard for me to witness all this happen in my lifetime. I’ve been trying to come up with words to describe the state of nature without human interference and people who appreciate, study, or advocate for it. Or at least the state of nature left untouched for 100+ years.
Humans are part of nature, however, they are a such a huge disturbance that nature without their touch should be recognized because so much can be learned from it. I also believe because I experience it, that this kind of nature is relaxing and energizing in a stressful human world. That’s kind of ironic since without modern conveniences, life or survival can be stressful too. But now I’m getting off topic.
A little off topic. Language and vocabulary says a lot about a culture. For example, places that witness a lot of snow or rain, a culture can have dozens of words for different kinds of precipitation. Another example is for cultures that worship money or fighting, they might have dozens of (slang) words for money or fighting…


I didnt have that experience, but always have had powerful feelings about the tiny remnants of the equivalent truly natural environments that remain in my locality (oddly enough, urban forest reserves, but so steep and often streamsides, and unstable, that they did not burn completely, and could not be profitably logged by the European settlers…and are pretty much untouched by human foot …or were, until recently when great concrete cycleways and wide paths are being rushed through for the Covid wave of recreational and athletic users.

I have also seen much devastation, and felt much loss. The only thing to offset this is the ongoing miracle of succession where people have not got to. Oddly enough, perhaps because it doesnt come with a price tag, unlike the thousands of planted seedlings that are trampled into place not only in the minuscule open spaces remaining in the city, but also anywhere people dont recognise the fascinating diversity and restoration potential of the existing remnant and regen vegetation.

I only see fragments of what you have are describing, since I very rarely travel away from home (by choice), but it is the same characteristic I need a word for observing, I think.


As I cooked dinner after writing this, I realized it is not accurately described as observing, but experiencing. I only say observing because I think it is more acceptable or understandable, at least here on iNat. Maybe that is the aspect of the activity that is missing from “naturalist”, because it seems to mean a kind of semi scientific pursuit.
But scientists probably experience there field of study as well as observe it…what do I know:)


We, naturalists, are not embarrassed by humans bodies! Saying as someone who has to bird near nudist beach from time to time.

1 Like

Faunist – a person who studies or writes on animal life; a naturalist.


Most “naturalists” and outdoors types advocate for people to get out in nature. I think this is so those people have the experience hoping those people will come to appreciate and protect it for future generations. Little is said about the untouched wilderness though. To experience that is even more rare. Not just to experience it but to understand and see time scales far beyond human lifespans. Once lost, it’s an experience that few will understand or even have a single thought about.


It seems there are two parts to your inquiry:

  1. Synonyms for “naturalist”: Prior to Earth Day 1970, I always though of the word ‘naturalist’ applied to pioneering persons in the field of “natural history” and I even put Aristotle into that category; then during the 1970’s, I studied and identified with the label “ecologist”, but am now quite happy to find the word naturalist as associated with this community and the respective goals within it.

  2. One could argue that ecology went deeper as philosophical concept such as “deep ecology” to move beyond an anthropocentric perspective, but on occasion, one can read back through Thoreau’s writing’s to get closer to the mark with a person having an affinity for wilderness or more specifically “wildness.”
    E.O. Wilson has proposed “biophilia” to describe the love for life in it’s natural state and that as humans (perhaps in the Anthropocene era) seek to love it enough to consider stewardship, conservation, and even further, an environmental ethic.


I just say I’m a nature nerd. :wink:


We remember not to confuse naturalists with biologists, because a naturalist does not need to have formal education (a naturalist is a passion for all aspects of nature), a biologist is the definition of higher formal skills. The terms of pure nature are: immaculate, untouched, primal. A naturist is not a naturalist, it is a person who practices nudity in places related to pure nature, it is a form of nudism.

Pristine nature, with no sign of human interference - no buildings, roads, lights.
But, I walk in national parks, on trails.

I am interested in nature, but to me a naturalist is a Victorian term, someone like Thoreau. It sounds archaic, but seems to be acceptable in contemporary USA.


I always felt that wilderness is a term close to my heart, so perhaps wildnernessologist @subalpine is an innovative expression as mentioned above. Wilderness seem to convey the meaning of nature untouched by human interference than just nature perhaps.
I am always looking for any sign of wilderness anywhere, even if it is a native shrub, miraculously forgotten between boulders of cement.
I have seen sand dunes being leveled, something I could not have believed only 15 years ago, huge petrified forests cleared for agriculture, and so on and so forth, I truly miss the wilderness.