Environmental Education on the Web

Glossaries and Dictionaries


Dictionaries and Glossaries
Environmentally-correct Linguists

Come on in and do some "Vocab Rehab" (vocabulary rehabilitation)



Merriam-Webster - Dictionary and Thesaurus
Add a FREE
Dictionary Button to your Explorer or Netscape browser - Easy to do
Then just highlight any word in a website you are viewing and click the button - up pops a definition. - English and other languages, Translator, Thesaurus, Language Resources

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

Microsoft's Encarta World English Dictionary - Links to 1,800 dictionaries in over 200 languages.
Free English lookup button (see notes regarding browser compatibility), translation, language identifiers, rules of grammar, word games, thesauri, and language tools (i.e., rhyming, synonym, antonym, pronunciation, abbreviations, etc.).  Text-to-speech (hear words you look up pronounced electronically).

Specialty Dictionaries - Links to dictionaries pertaining to specific subjects such as: Agriculture, Astronomy, Biology, Botany, Chemistry, Education, Energy, Environment, Forestry, Geography, Geology, Health, Mathematics, Measures, Physics, Science, Sociology, Space, and Water (

Free Dictionary Toolbar - easy to install

Note:  You may need to check more than one source for a definition - especially for specialized words having to do with a specific branch of science.  In some cases you may need to find the root word.

You don't have to wait until you need to look a word up; click into some of the dictionaries and glossaries and just browse through the words.  

Specialized dictionaries and glossaries
(and some links to help you with grammar)

For a quick search of this page for a specific topic, click Find on your browser and type in subject

Abbreviations and Acronyms (USGS)
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
Agriculture: A Glossary of Terms, Programs, and Laws (National Council for Science and the Environment)
Agricultural and Environmental Biotechnology Annotated Dictionary (Hagedorn)

Agricultural Thesaurus (National Agricultural Library)
Aquatic, Wetland, and Invasive Plant Glossary (University of Florida)
Atmosphere-Atmospheric Glossary (see Meterology Glossary below)
Atmospheric Chemistry Glossary (Sam Houston State University)
Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program Glossary - (ARM Science Research for Global Climate Change)
Biodiversity Glossary (World Resources Institute)
Biomes Vocabulary
BioTech Life Science Dictionary
Bird Dictionary (Bird On!)
Bird Glossary with photo links (USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center)
Botanical Glossary (with a focus on Orchids)
Botanical Terms - Searchable glossary containing 4400 terms relating to botany, gardening, horticulture and landscape architecture.  Regularly updated. (Garden Web)

Classification of Living Things Glossary (Palomar College)
Clean Air Glossary from Foundation for Clean Air Progress

Climate Change Glossary (Safe Climate for Business/Project of the World Resources Institute)
Climate Glossary (National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center)

Climate Glossary (NOAA)
Coastal Terminology Glossary (Washington State Dept. of Ecology)
Composting Terms (Cornell Center for the Environment - Cornell University)
Convention on Biological Diversity

Earth Observatory Glossary (NASA)
Earth Science Acronyms, Glossaries and Gazetteers  (Global Change Master Directory)
List of linked sites that contain helpful acronyms used throughout the Earth Science (and other) communities, glossaries of Earth Science terms, and gazetteers of geographic location names.
Eco Terms Dictionary from Eco-Web

Ecological Terms (Gov't of Canada)
Ecosystem Management (U.S. Forest Service)
Emergency Management Glossary - Hazards, disasters and U.S. Emergency Management)
   Also see Hazards

Endangered Species Glossary (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Entomology Glossaries - List of links to entomology related glossaries and dictionaries.  Also see listings on this page under Insect category (below)
Environmental Contaminants Encyclopedia (National Park Service and Colorado State University)
Environmental Defense Fund K-6 Glossary (Cornell Waste Mgmt Institute)
(Master of Engineering student project, Southampton University)
Environmental Glossary (Florida Museum of Natural History)
Environmental Glossary (Nat'l Safety Council)

Environmental Protection Agency Glossary
Environmental Protection Agency Terms of Environment
Everglades Glossary Links - Including environmental, coastal, soil, ichthyology, geologic, wildlife, technical.
Fish - also do a Find for Ichthyology
Fish Glossary (
Fish Glossary (Marine Conservation Society / FishOnline)
Fisheries - list of links to glossaries related to fish, fisheries, marine biology (
Fishing Methods - some, like trawling, long-lining and explosives are very harmful (Marine Conservation Society)
Fish Name Translations (saltwater fish) - Swedish, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Latin
Fish of the Great Lakes Glossary - including some illustrations (University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute)
"Forest Puzzles" Glossary

Forestry Terms - suggest clicking on alphabetical letter your word begins with, and looking down the list for your word and related words.  Then go back and type your word in the Search function for expanded topics on related subjects.
Genetic Terms - Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms
- to help people without scientific backgrounds understand the terms and concepts used in genetic research.  click on the term of interest to open a page with a wealth of information, including the term's pronunciation, audio information, images and additional links to related terms. Students, teachers and parents will find the glossary an easy-to-use, always available learning source on genetics.
Geography - Glossary of terms related to physical geography (

Geologic Terms (Illustrated.  Iowa State University)  Give it time to load.

Geology Glossary and Dictionary

Global Climate Research Information Office (scroll about 3/4 way down page to glossary)
Global Warming (Climate Change) Glossary (U.S. EPA)
Glossaries (University of California Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley)
Glossarist - Searchable and categorized directory of glossaries and dictionaries.
Glossary Agent (MultiTech Communications, Inc)
Annotated gateway to online monolingual, bilingual, and multilingual glossaries of interest to professionals in insurance, reinsurance, risk management, employee benefits, healthcare, and related fields such as law and financial services. Subject categories:  Accounting/Business/Economics, Biometrics/Computers/Internet, Building Construction, Crime and Fraud, Employee Benefits/Healthcare/Human Resources, Environment, Finance and Investment, Fire Prevention, Insurance and Surety, Law, Life Science, Physical Sciences and Engineering, Reinsurance, Risk Management, Safety, Shipping and Transportation, Statistics, Weather.

Glossopedia - digital library of the cultural and biological diversity on our planet. (GLOBIO)

Great Barrier Reef Glossary (terminology and definitions of words used on the ReefEd site)
Guide to Environmental Issues: Glossary of Terms and Acronyms (EPA)
Hazards, Disasters, Risks, Vulnerability Natural and Environmental Disaster Information Exchange System. Glossary Links re Avalanches, Chemicals/Toxicology, Disaster Relief, Earthquakes, Fires, Flooding, Hurricanes, Insurance, Landslides, Natural Disasters and Hazards, Storms, Tsunamis, Volcanoes, Assessments) - (note: other links on our page to hurricanes and other hazardous subjects)
Herbarium - Definition of a Herbarium (Harvard University)

Herbarium Field Guide Glossary - terms that might be used in field guides to describe plant characteristics
(The Virtual Field Herbarium - research project based at Oxford University)
Hydrologic Terms (NOAA)
Phylogenetics, Geology, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Ecology, Life History, Zoology, Botany and Paleogeography
Hydrology - Multilingual international glossary of hydrology (UNESCO)

Illustrated Dictionaries from Zoom School 

Imagine the Universe (NASA)
Insect Terms  (Also see Entomology category on this page above)
- links to glossaries and dictionaries pertaining to entomology (branch of zoology dealing with the scientific study of insects), life sciences, toxicology, organisms, chemicals, agricultural, plant pathology,  epidemiology, nematology, weed science, and terms related to various mini-beasts.  (Click on Identification/Definitions)   Also see Entomology category on this page above)
Life Science Dictionary - online resource containing over 8300 terms dealing with biochemistry, biotechnology, botany, cell biology and genetics. (University of Texas)
Math Glossary - Illustrated glossary with animations and diagrams to enhance student comprehension of important math terms, grades 1 through 8 (Harcourt Multimedia)
Meteorology Glossary (Atmosphere and atmospheric phenomena - NOAA-CIRES)
Glossary of El Niño/Southern Oscillation Terms

Microbiology Dictionary (bacteria, protozoa, viruses, algae, and fungi)
National Library of Medicine Search MedLinePlus or Medical Dictionary

National Wildlife Federation - Cool Tour of the Environment Glossary
Native Plants Glossary (California Native Plant Society)
Nuclear Science Terms
(Lawrence Berkeley Nat'l Laboratory)
Ocean Terms Definitions (Committee for the National Institute of the Environment)
One Look - Search 993 dictionaries at once
Orchid Species Glossary
Ozone Depletion Glossary - with links  (EPA)

Pacific Institute's "Global Change" Glossary
Plants, Animals and the Environment (PAE) Glossary derived from leading WCB/McGraw-Hill textbooks in zoology, botany, environmental science and marine biology.
Prairie, Grasslands and Savannahs Glossary (Bell Museum of Natural History)
Quaternary Acronyms and Abbreviations  (geological period end of Tertiary to present time)
Quotes - Proper use of quotation marks (Purdue University Writing Lab)
Reef Glossary/Encyclopedia (NOAA) Contains 3,000 terms/definitions/explanations concerned with ecology, biogeography, evolution, taxonomy, morphology, physiology, cell and molecular biology, genetics, mapping, development, fisheries, oceanography, geosciences, conservation programs, remote-sensing, physics, chemistry, and data and information management.
  Includes some illustrative materials.
Reverse Dictionary - Describe a concept and get back a list of related words/phrases (One Look)
Answers questions, solve crossword puzzle clues, find words without knowing all the letters.
RhymeZone -
 Search for rhymes, synonyms, definitions, quotations, Shakespeare, Mother Goose, Quizzes, Famous Documents.
Science and Technology Dictionary - Harcourt/Academic Press
Largest online English language scientific dictionary on the web!  130,000 terms are defined in 130 fields of science.  Searchable by word or choose a scientific field and browse.
Smog Glossary - (EPA/Ofc of Transportation and Air Quality - Colorado School of Mines) 
Soil Science Glossary - From the Soil Science Society of America
Solar Glossary - terms associated with electricity and power generation, including key terms related to solar electricity, or photovoltaics (PV). (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
Solar Radiation Resource Terms (Renewable Resource Data Center, U.S. Dept of Energy)
Solar/Terrestrial Glossary of Terms (NOAA Space Environment Center)
Sprawl/Nature in Fragments Glossary - Center for Biodiversity and Conservation
Also contains links to online resources related to sprawl, smart growth and sustainable development (near bottom of pg)
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - (enter via U.S.A, or mirror sites: Australia, The Netherlands, or UK)
Studying Earth's Environment from Space  Acronym list and glossary (NASA)

Taxonomy - Explanation of scientific classification of plants and animals into groups or categories
Taxonomy: What's in a Name? (Florida Center for Library Information)
Technology (see Science and Technology)
Terminology Reference System -
The Terminology Reference System (TRS) has been created as a single resource of environmental terminology for the Environmental Protection Agency by compiling collections of terms from EPA and other sources.
Tide Terminology (National Weather Service/NOAA Tidal Terminology)
Time dating Glossary of Terms (Palomar College)
Tree Terms (Glossary) - (Prepared by Dr. Craig R. McKinley, North Carolina State University)
United Nations Environment Programme Glossary  
Units of Measurement - with conversion calculator (University of Exeter, U.K.) 

Units of Measurement - Dictionary and mega list of various units of measurement ; including international, country-specific, historical, scientific, customary and the out-of-the-ordinary. (Russ Rowlett, Director, Center for Mathematics and Science Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
U.S. Geological Survey Glossary (USGS)

Volcanic and Geologic Terms

Volcano Terms - Photo Glossary
Water Environment Terms Water Glossary - Hydrologic definitions (USGS)
Water Environment Terms (Water Environment Federation)
Water Glossary - Environment Canada (click on alphabetical characters or scroll down)
Water Science for Schools
Dictionary (USGS)

Watershed Glossary - Purdue University
Water Words - California EPA.  Click on alphabetical characters or scroll down page.

Water Words Dictionary - Nevada Div of Water, Dept of Conservation and Natural Resources
Click on alphabetical characters.
Weather Glossary (NOAA - National Weather Service) This glossary contains information on more than 2000 terms, phrases and abbreviations used by the NWS. Many of these terms and abbreviations are used by NWS forecasters to communicate between each other and have been in use for many years
Weather Glossary - Terms related to hurricanes and tropical storms. (NOAA)
Weather Labs Glossary - to help you better understand weather forecasts and reports.  Click on Weather glossary in left frame under Learning.
(Weather defined in hundreds of descriptive terms:  general, emotional, feels-like, marine, precipitation, sky, temperature, wind, and severe)
Weather Terms for Storm Spotters - Severe weather (NOAA)
WordNet - A lexical database for the English language developed by the Cognitive Science Lab at Princeton University.
World Wide Words
Interesting investigation of international English from a British viewpoint. Trace the origin of phrases and weird words.


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