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naturalist

That neighborhood kid who is always collecting butterflies and leaves? He just might grow up to be a naturalist, or a scientist who specializes in studying nature.

A biologist whose interest lies primarily in the study of plants or animals can be called a naturalist, although these days it's more likely she'll be called a natural historian, a botanist, or a zoologist. The noun naturalist comes from the Latin word natura, "course of things, natural character, the universe," or literally, "birth." Be careful not to confuse naturalist with naturist, which is another word for a person who prefers to be naked — a nudist.

Definitions of naturalist
  1. noun
    a biologist knowledgeable about natural history (especially botany and zoology)
    synonyms: natural scientist
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    examples:
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    Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz
    United States naturalist (born in Switzerland) who studied fossil fish; recognized geological evidence that ice ages had occurred in North America (1807-1873)
    Roy Chapman Andrews
    United States naturalist who contributed to paleontology and geology (1884-1960)
    Georges Leopold Chretien Frederic Dagobert Cuvier
    French naturalist known as the father of comparative anatomy (1769-1832)
    Charles Robert Darwin
    English natural scientist who formulated a theory of evolution by natural selection (1809-1882)
    Konrad von Gesner
    Swiss naturalist who was one of the founders of modern zoology (1516-1565)
    William Henry Hudson
    English naturalist (born in Argentina) (1841-1922)
    Baron Friedrich Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt
    German naturalist who explored Central and South America and provided a comprehensive description of the physical universe (1769-1859)
    Jean Baptiste de Lamarck
    French naturalist who proposed that evolution resulted from the inheritance of acquired characteristics (1744-1829)
    John Muir
    United States naturalist (born in England) who advocated the creation of national parks (1838-1914)
    Lorenz Okenfuss
    German naturalist whose speculations that plants and animals are made up of tiny living `infusoria' led to the cell theory (1779-1851)
    Georg Wilhelm Steller
    German naturalist (1709-1746)
    Jan Swammerdam
    Dutch naturalist and microscopist who proposed a classification of insects and who was among the first to recognize cells in animals and was the first to see red blood cells (1637-1680)
    Alfred Russel Wallace
    English naturalist who formulated a concept of evolution that resembled Charles Darwin's (1823-1913)
    type of:
    biologist, life scientist
    (biology) a scientist who studies living organisms
  2. noun
    an advocate of the doctrine that the world can be understood in scientific terms
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    type of:
    philosopher
    a specialist in philosophy
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