Antedating of "Physicist"

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Tue Nov 11 18:09:46 UTC 2003

The most important scientific word-coinages of the 19th century were
William Whewell's coinages of _scientist_ (1834) and _physicist_ (1840).
It now appears that Whewell did not in fact coin the latter word.  A
search on the Science Direct database yields the following:

1838 tr. M. V. Regnault in _Jrnl. Franklin Inst._ July 31  A great number
of physicists have employed themselves during the last century, in the
examination of the specific heats of elastic fluids.

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Collections and     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
  Access and Lecturer in Legal Research     Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at     

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