Speak Like a Scientist: 4 Words to Try Using Differently

Scientific writing is known for its precision and accuracy. Other forms of written and spoken communication, however, are often filled with confusing and ambiguous vocabulary. Here are four words we’ve poached from the scientific world that should be adopted in non-scientific communication.

Abstract In scientific writing, an abstract summarizes the key points of a presentation or paper. Written scientific research is often lengthy, so an abstract serves as a way to let the reader know what he or she is getting into up front. Most people use the word “abstract” to describe art or theoretical concepts. But if you use its scientific meaning, whether you’re writing a long email or a detailed list of directions, you can create an abstract that summarizes the key points.

Volume In our everyday lives, we often talk about volume in terms of noise. In science, volume is the amount of space occupied by an object measured in three dimensions, expressed in cubic units. Try using “volume” as a more specific way of talking about how much space is available for or taken up by an object.

Hypothesis In the scientific world, a hypothesis is a supposition made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation. In our everyday conversation, the word “hypothesis” can often be substituted for the word “idea.” For example, if you’re planning a bake sale and you base your sales projections on how many cookies and cupcakes you sold last year, you might say you have “an idea” of how much money you’ll make this year. Since your idea is based on evidence from the year before, it’s actually a hypothesis.

Conductor A train conductor, a symphony conductor…we know conductors as people who orchestrate actions. In the scientific world, a conductor is a material or an object that conducts heat, electricity, light, or sound. For example, the cord between your lamp and the wall is a conductor of electricity. (Interestingly, the plastic or rubber casing around the wire acts as an insulator and the internal metal wiring is the strict conductor.) Once you know what a conductor is, you’ll start seeing them everywhere! Use this word from the science world to identify the conductors around you — even in a literary sense!

What other scientific words should be adopted for everyday use? Share your suggestions in the comments!


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