Evolution Vocabulary

  • Adaptation:  a trait that increases the chances that an organism will survive and reproduce
  • Artificial selection:  the breeding of plants and animals with desired traits to attempt to produce off spring with these same traits.
  • Biological evolution:  the change over time of living organisms
  • Darwin:  was a naturalist who proposed and provided scientific evidence that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors through the process he called natural selection.
  • Species:  the most specific classification of living things
  • Evolution:  the change in population of a species over time.
  • Extinction:  The evolutionary termination of a species caused by the failure to reproduce and the death of all remaining members of the species; the natural failure to adapt to environmental change.
  • Mutation:  a random change to a gene that results in a new trait. Can be positive, negative or have no effect on an individual
  • Natural selection:  survival of the fittest organisms that are the best adapted to their environment and the ones that will live long enough to reproduce and pass on their favorable adaptations
  • Speciation:  the process of natural selection producing a new species out of existing species over thousands or millions of years.
  • Theory:  an explanation that ties together many hypothesis and observations.
  • Gradualism:  The theory that evolution occurs slowly, but steadily over long periods of time.
  • Population:  A group of organisms of one species that interbreed and live in the same place at the same time (e.g. deer population)

Absolute or Carbon Dating: Process of determining the age of an object using the half-life (based on uranium) of one or more radioactive isotopes to find out how old something was

Relative dating: How old an object is compared to another object

Index Fossils: Fossils of widely distributed organisms that lived during only one short period during Earth’s time scale. Example: trilobite

Sedimentary Rock: the type of rock that is made out of hardened layers. Example: Grand Canyon

Law of superposition: The geologic principle that states that in horizontal layers of sedimentary rock, each layer is older than the layer above it and younger than the layer below it. OR. In undisturbed layers of sedimentary rock the layer at the bottom is the oldest.

8.L.1.2 Vocabulary

Vocabulary Definition
Epidemic An outbreak of a disease that affects many people in an area
Pandemic An epidemic that spreads over a large area, or throughout the world
Vectors An organism that transmits a disease.  The organism does not cause the disease itself, but spreads infection by conveying pathogens from one host to another.  Example-Mosquitoes are vectors for the deadly disease Malaria.
Pathogens An organism that causes disease
Microbe (microorganism) A living thing that cannot be seen without a microscope
Antimicrobial An agent, like a drug, that is destructive to or prevents the growth of microorganisms

8.L.1.1 Vocabulary

Vocabulary Definition
Microbiology The study of microscopic organisms
Virus A small, nonliving particle that invades and then reproduces inside a living cell.
Bacteria Single-celled organisms that lack a nucleus; prokaryotes
  • Cocci (plural)
Coccus- a round or spherical shaped bacterium
  • Bacilli (plural)
Bacillus- a rod-shaped bacterium
  • Spirilla (plural)
Spirillum- a bacterium that has a spiral shape
Fungi Eukaryotic organisms that have cell walls, use spores to reproduce, and are heterotrophs that feed by absorbing food.
Parasite An organism that lives on or in a host and causes harm to the host
Disease An illness that affects a person, animal, or plant: a condition that prevents the body or mind from working normally
Unicellular Having or consisting of a single cell
Host Cell An organism that provides a sources of energy or a suitable environment for a virus or for another organism to live
Antibiotics A chemical that can kill bacteria without harming a person’s cells
Passive Immunity Immunity in which antibodies are given to a person rather than produced within the person’s own body
Active Immunity Immunity that occurs when a person’s own immune system produces antibodies in response to the presence of a pathogen
Vaccine A substance introduced into the body to stimulate the production of chemicals that destroy specific viruses, bacteria, or other disease-causing organisms

Vaccination-The process by which harmless antigens are deliberately introduced into a person’s body to produce active immunity

Infectious disease A disease caused by the presence of a living thing in the body
Noninfectious disease A disease that is not caused by a pathogen
Carcinogens A substance or a factor in the environment that can cause cancer


1. Physical Changes A change in a substance that does not change its identity.
2. Properties A quality, attribute, or distinctive feature of anything, a characteristic
3. Boiling Point The temperature at which a substance changes from a liquid to a gas.
4. Melting Point The temperature at which a substance changes from a solid to a liquid.
5. Density The mass of a substance contained in a unit of volume.
6. Solubility A measure of how much solute can dissolve in a given solvent at a given temperature.
7. Solvent A substance that dissolves another substance
8. Solute The part of a solution present in a lesser amount and dissolved by the solvent.
9. pH scale A range of values used to express the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution.
10. Acidity Reacts with metals and carbonates
11. Basicity The extent to which a substance is basic.
12. Combustibility A reaction between oxygen and fuel that results in a fire.
13.  Reactivity The ease and speed with which an element combines, or reacts, with other elements and compounds.
14. Chemical changes A change is which one or more substances combine or break apart to form new substances.
15.  Reactions The action of two things acting together.
16. Chemical Bonds The force that holds two atoms together.
17.  Precipitate A solid that forms from a solution during a chemical reaction.
Word Definition
1. Periodic Table A chart of the elements showing the repeating pattern of their properties
2. Element A pure substance that cannot be broken down into other substances by chemical or physical means.
3. Atom The basic particle from which all elements are made
4. Valence Electron The number of electrons found in the outer shell.

These electrons can be gain, lost or shared during a chemical reaction

5. Atomic Number The number of protons in the nucleus of an atom.
6. Isotope An atom with the same number of protons and a different number of neutrons from other atoms of the same element.
7. Atomic Mass The average mass of all the isotopes of an element
8. Vertical Column- Group/Family Elements in the same vertical column of the periodic table. 18 columns
9. Horizontal Row- Period A horizontal row of elements in the periodic table. 7 rows
10. Physical Property A characteristic of a pure substance that can be observed without changing it into another substance
11. Malleability A term used to describe a material that can be pounded into shaper.
12. Conductivity The ability of an object to transfer heat or electricity to another object.
13. Reactivity The ease and speed with which an element combines or reacts, with other elements and compounds.
14. Ductility A term used to describe a material that can be pulled out into a long wire.
15. Metal A class of elements characterized by physical properties that include shininess, malleability, ductility and conductivity.
16. Metalloid An element that has some characteristics  of both metals and nonmetals.
17. Nonmetal An element that lacks most of the properties of a metal

8.P.1.1:  Vocabulary

Word Definition
1.Filtering A substance that allows only certain things to pass through.
2. Mixtures Two or more substances that are mixed together and not chemically combined.
3. Homogeneous A mixture in which substances are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
4. Heterogeneous A mixture in which pure substances are unevenly distributed throughout the mixture.
5. Sifting Separate out from one thing to another
6. Evaporation The process by which molecules at the surface of a liquid absorb enough energy to change to the gaseous state.
7. States of Matter One of the distinct forms that matter takes on.
8. Solid A state of matter that has a definite shape and a definite volume.
9. Liquid A state of matter that has no definite shape but has a definite volume.
10. Gas A state of matter with no definite shape or volume
11. Molecule A particle made of two or more atoms bonded together.
12. Crystal Pattern Atoms, molecules are packed in a regularly ordered, repeating three-dimensional pattern.
13. Matter Anything that has mass and occupies space.
14. Atoms The basic particle from which all elements are made.
15. Proton A positively charged particle that is part of an atom’s nucleus
16. Electron A negatively charged particle that orbits the nucleus of an atom
17. Neutron A small particle in the nucleus of the atom, with no electrical charge.
18. Electron Cloud A sphere shaped region surrounding the nucleus where electrons move.
19. Nucleus The central core of an atom containing protons and usually neutrons.
20. Element A pure substance that cannot be broken down into other substances by chemical or physical means.
21. Density The mass of a substance contained in a unit of volume.
22. Volume The amount of space an object takes up.
23. Mass A measure of how much matter is in an object.
24. Compounds A pure substance made of two or more elements chemically combined.
Word Definition
Nutrients Substance such as nitrogen or phosphates that enable plants and algae to grow or fuel to help other living organisms grow.
Reservoir An area that stores water
Minerals Minerals that are in the ocean such as sodium, carbon dioxide, oil, gas, nitrogen, sulfur
Dissolved Gases Many dissolved in the ocean.  The main ones are nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide.  Ocean exchanges these with the atmosphere to keep a balance between the ocean and atmosphere
Estuaries A coastal inlet or bay where fresh water from rivers mixes with salty ocean water
Marine Ecosystems Largest of Earth’s aquatic systems. They include oceans, salt marsh, and intertidal zones, estuaries and lagoons, mangroves and coral reefs, the deep sea and the sea floor.   2/3’s of the Earth’s surface
Upwelling The movement of cold water upward from the deep ocean that is caused by wind.
Buffer Zones Oceans are able to absorb excess acids from the shore to help keep them at a constant pH.
Shore Ecosystem The area at the ocean’s edge where the aquatic and terrestrial organisms  interact
Ocean Ecosystem Many different ecosystems living within the ocean.
Deep ocean ecosystem Ecosystem in the deepest part of the ocean
Vertical zonation patterns Horizontal bands of species within an area
Microbes An extremely small living thing that can only be seen with a microscope




Potability Water that is safe to drink.
Physical factors A characteristic that can be observed directly or measured with a tool. Example:  temperature, turbidity and water movement
Chemical factors Substance that changes the chemistry within the water:   examples:  dissolved oxygen and other gases, pH, nitrates, and salinity.  
Biological factors Organisms that live within the water.
Temperature A measure of the average energy of motion of the particles of a substance.
Dissolved oxygen Is a measure of the amount of oxygen in water that is available for chemical reactions and for use by aquatic organisms
Nitrogen (Nitrates)/Phosphorous (phosphates) Nitrates come from surface water:  runoff, septic tank leakage, sewage and erosion of natural deposits.

Phosphates usually enter waterways from human and animal waste, laundry, cleaning and industrial cleaners.

pH A measure of how acidic or how basic a liquid is
Turbidity A measure of how clear the water is
Bio-indicators (macro-invertebrates) An organism used to monitor the health of an ecosystem
Salinity The saltiness of a body of water


Pollutant A harmful material released into the environment
Pollution The release of an unwanted substance into the environment
Point Source Pollution Pollution that comes from a single, identifiable site.
Non – point source pollution Pollution that comes from many places or an unidentified source.
Monitor Managing information
Water Quality The degree of purity of water, determined by measuring the substances in water besides water molecules.
Solvent A substance that dissolves another substance.
Stewardship The following of practices that protect Earth’s resources.
Regulations Rules to follow
Tolerant organisms Organisms that are able to withstand some pollution
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Government organization that regulates and monitors water and air quality.
Conservation The careful use and management of natural resources


Freshwater Vocabulary Words    8.E.1.1, 1.3, 1.4

River Basin The land that water flows across or under on its way to a river.
Tributaries The streams and smaller rivers that feed into a main river
Ground Water Water located below Earth’s surface
Watershed An area of land that drains into a stream, river, lake, or other body of water
Freshwater Water that is not salty
Estuary A place where freshwater from a river meets and mixes with salt water from the ocean
Stewardship The following of practices that protect Earth’s resources
Brackish water Saltwater and freshwater mixed together, but not is salty as seawater. Like in estuaries.
pH The measurement of how acidic or basic a substance is, on a scale of 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very basic).
Bioindicators An organism used to monitor the health of an ecosystem.
Macroinvertebrates organisms without backbones, which are invisible to the eye without the aid of a microscope.
Dissolved oxygen Microscopic bubbles of gaseous oxygen that are mixed in water and available to aquatic organisms for respiration.
Photosynthesis The process by which the cells of plants and some other organisms use the energy of sunlight to make their own food.




Word Definition
Hydrosphere Made up of all the water found, on, above and under the Earth’s surface.
Lithosphere The layer of Earth made up of the crust and the rigid rock of the upper mantle, averaging about 40 kilometers thick and broken into tectonic plates.
Water Cycle The continuous movement of water between Earth’s surface and its atmosphere.
Biosphere All living organisms on Earth in the air, on the land, and in the waters;  one of the four parts of the Earth system.
Atmosphere The outer layer of  gases of a large body in space, such as a planet or star:  the mixture of gases that surrounds the solid Earth; one of the four parts of the Earth system.
Fresh water Water that is not salty and has little or no taste, color or smell.  Most lakes and rivers are made up of fresh water.
Aquifer A rock layer that collects and stores water
Groundwater Water located below Earth’s surface
Salt Water Water that contains dissolved salts and other minerals.  Oceans consist of salt water.