Definition of Science: Why People Are Still Confused About It

“Science is simply the word we use to describe a method of organizing our curiosity”

Tim Minchin

The word science is used in so many different contexts these days that people wonder what the word really means. Is it a field of study or a method of organization? Is it a body of knowledge or just the word we use to describe new inventions? In this article, we help to make the definition of science easier for the average person while elaborating on some of the fields of the subject too.  

How Mainstream Dictionaries Define Science

Before everything else, we wanted to compile how dictionaries like Oxford and Merriam-Webster define science. It sheds light on how confusing it can be for someone to understand what science really is and what it entails:

–          Oxford: “The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment”

–          Collins: A relatively simpler but less comprehensive definition of science is the one given by the Dictionary. It states that “science is the study of the nature and behavior of natural things and the knowledge that we obtain about them”

–          Merriam-Webster: This dictionary lists several definitions of science which makes it even more confusing. Here is one; “knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through the scientific method”

The only common thing in these definitions is that science involves experimentation and the use of scientific methods. Doesn’t really define much, does it?

The Aspects that Confuse Most People

The term science is one of the most often repeated yet without a clear meaning to it, it becomes hard to make proper use of it. It is true that most people aren’t bothered as long as it fits the context but it is important to know about the underlying meaning. This is where a lot of people get confused because on Google the first definition that pops up is from Oxford and it is by far the most twisty.

A Layman’s Explanation

If you are looking for an easy definition of science, then the one given by Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary comes closest. It states that any “knowledge attained through study or practice” is called science. It is basically a system through which we acquire knowledge which is based on experiments and observation. Science is any knowledge that is obtained through a systematic process and this involves following the standard procedure of research. So anything learnt through these steps is called science.

Final word

Science defines a lot of things that we do on a daily basis. It is part of almost everything that we learn because, in one way or another, the root of it is research. Since research follows a systematic process where there is an assumption then a hypothesis after that there are tests to confirm the hypothesis and finally, results are presented. So, anything that involves research is science.

Also Read: The Best Science Books Of 2019 and How They Will Benefit You


What do you think?