Which is the best dictionary in biology

Compact lexicon of biology

In the last two decades in particular, knowledge in biology has increased explosively through the development and application of new technologies and close cooperation with neighboring disciplines. Many new disciplines in biology, such as environmental protection, biotechnology, genetic engineering and the new reproductive technologies, directly affect the everyday life of broad sections of the population. It is becoming more and more important to be informed at least in the basics in order to be able to evaluate and classify the importance of new applications for one's own living environment.

The "online compact lexicon biology" is intended to provide the user with an orientation in addition to the acquisition of this fundamental and at the same time current knowledge of biology, including the questions that concern biologists and the society dealing with the findings of biology and its consequences. The necessary knowledge is conveyed by more than 15,000 keywords from all areas of biology with special consideration of current developments. A well thought-out reference system enables orientation and classification in the overall context. A series of essays on current and, in some cases, hotly debated topics, shows new perspectives and thereby grants new approaches to a topic area. In addition, the most important methods used in biology are explained on special method pages.

Copyright 2001 Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Heidelberg


The spelling of names and terms is based on the specialist spelling most frequently found in recent German textbooks, taking into account the existing scientific nomenclatures and with the tendency to adapt to international spelling (e.g. calcium instead of calcium, cytology instead of cytology, nucleus instead of nucleus). Since there are not generally applicable rules for spelling in every case, the following applies: For C missing words, search for K, Sch, Tsch or Z; for V, words not used under W, for D missing words under T and vice versa. The same applies to the writing of umlauts (ä and ae, ö and oe, ü and ue). The text is in the new German spelling, although deviations in the spelling of technical terms are possible.

If a compound word is not found, it is advisable to look up the main term.

The chemical nomenclature follows the recommendations of the International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), the EC numbers of the enzymes correspond to the recommendations of the Enzyme Commission of IUPAC and the International Union of Biochemistry (IUB).

The lexically recorded names of plants, animals, fungi and bacteria as well as other biological terms are usually included in the alphabet under both the Latin and the German name (common name). A large number of synonymous names exist for many organisms, but only some of them have been taken into account.

In the case of the scientific names of plants, animals, fungi, bacteria and archaebacteria, the genus and species names are generally in italics, unless it is a reference keyword. Names of higher taxa as well as technical terms are printed in italics if they are important for the understanding of the article or if they should be emphasized.

For the higher taxa (down to the family) the text can be found under the scientific name and the German name refers to it. Species and genera are described under the (mostly more common) German name, whereby the scientific name refers to it. This rule was only deviated from if the scientific name is more common (e.g. Arabidopsis thaliana is described under the scientific name and thale cress is only referred to there).

Abbreviations have only been used sparingly for the sake of better legibility of the texts and are compiled in a separate list of abbreviations unless they are explained in the text.


a= Year
Fig.= Figure
Abbr. = Abbreviation
Dept. = Department
african. = African
general = general
american. = American
arab. = Arabic
Ed. = Edition
austral. = Australian
Vol., Vol. = Volume, volumes
belg. = Belgian
Bez. = Designation
brit. = British
or. = respectively
approx. = approx
Danish = Danish
i.e. = that is
ed. = editor
engl. = English
f., ff. = following, following
Fam. = Family (s)
french = French
Husband = Genus (s)
Greek = Greek
H = Hour
Ed. = Publisher
generally = in general
i.e.S. = in the narrower sense
ital. = Italian
i.ü.S. = in the figurative sense
i.w.S. = in the broader sense
Japan. = Japanese
Century = Century
Jt. = Millennium
Kunstw. = Made-up word
Latin. = Latin
m = male
min = Minute
Million = Millions
Billion = Billions
n.Br. = northern latitude
A.D. = after the birth of Christ
dutch = Dutch
Ord. = Order (s)
austrian = Austrian
port. = Portuguese
Prof. = Professor
s = Second
S. = Side
s.Br. = southern latitude
swed. = Swedish
Swiss. = Swiss
so. = see above
span. = Spanish
see below = see below
syn., syn. = synonymous, synonym
Tab. = Table
i.a. = and others, among others
Univ. = University
etc. = and so on
B.C. = Before the birth of Christ
see. = compare
w = female
e.g. = for example
partly = partly


Editorial staff:
Dipl.-Biol. Elke Brechner (project management)
Dr. Barbara Dinkelaker
Dr. Daniel Dreesmann

Scientific advisors:
Professor Dr. Helmut König, Institute for Microbiology and Wine Research, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Professor Dr. Siegbert Melzer, Institute for Plant Sciences, ETH Zurich
Professor Dr. Walter Sudhaus, Institute for Zoology, Free University of Berlin
Professor Dr. Wilfried Wichard, Institute for Biology and its Didactics, University of Cologne

Essay authors:
Thomas Birus, Kulmbach (The global man and his diet)
Dr. Daniel Dreesmann, Cologne (Hope is green - through or for GM plants?)
Inke Drossé, Neubiberg (cruelty to animals in agriculture)
Professor Manfred Dzieyk, Karlsruhe (reproductive medicine - lucky advances or impermissible interventions?)
Professor Dr. Gerhard Eisenbeis, Mainz (light pollution and its fatal consequences for animals)
Dr. Oliver Larbolette, Freiburg (allergies on the rise)
Dr. Theres Lüthi, Zurich (Research on Embryonic Stem Cells)
Professor Dr. Wilfried Wichard, Cologne (amber research)