Scientific Terms Study Guide

Updated on Jul 15, 2011

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Scientific Terms Practice Exercises

It may be hard to believe, as you sit in yet another science class, that you'll actually need the information you're learning, but it's true. You'll find that you need to call on it at the oddest moments of your life—while you're cooking something new in the kitchen or working on your car in the garage. It might be when you're looking up at the stars one night or trying to figure out how to make your garden soil richer. Suddenly, that fact you learned in your biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, anatomy, or other science class will be needed. If you can recall and use it, you'll impress others—and probably even yourself.

The words in this lesson are a quick overview of some common scientific terms. Clearly, each branch of science has its own entire vocabulary and to cover them all here would be impossible.


  • antioxidant   any substance that inhibits oxidation, including vitamin E, vitamin C, or beta carotene, and is thought to protect the body from the damaging effects of oxidation
  • bacteria   one-celled organisms that are involved in fermentation, putrefaction, and infectious diseases
  • biodegradable   capable of decaying or decomposing through the action of living organisms, such as bacteria
  • chromosome   a threadlike strand of DNA that contains the hereditary information necessary for cell life
  • enzyme   any one of the complex proteins that are produced by cells and act as catalysts in specific biochemical reactions
  • equilibrium   a state of rest or balance; referred to in chemistry as the state of a chemical reaction that has equal forward and reverse actions, such that the product doesn't essentially change
  • friction   the resistance that occurs when two objects rub together
  • genome   a full set of chromosomes; all the inheritable traits of an organism
  • homeostasis   the tendency for the conditions inside the body of an animal to not change or alter even when outside environmental conditions change
  • hypotheses   things not proven but assumed to be true for purposes of argument or further study or investigation
  • inertia   a property of matter such that it remains at rest or motionless unless acted on by an external force; a tendency not to move or change
  • meiosis   the process that reduces the number of chromosomes in reproductive cells
  • metabolism   the processes by which a particular substance is handled by the body
  • metamorphosis   the series of change in shape and function that certain animals go through as they develop from egg to adult
  • molecule   the smallest particle of a substance having all the characteristics of the substance
  • nucleus   the central part of an atom that includes nearly all of the atomic mass and consists of protons and usually neutrons
  • osmosis   the passage of material though a membrane that won't allow all kinds of molecules to pass through
  • photosynthesis   the process by which plants make food
  • recessive   exhibited by the body only when the determining gene is homozygous (which means having at least one gene pair that contains identical genes)
  • replication   an act or process of copying or duplication

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Scientific Terms Practice Exercises

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