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Taxonomy is the practice and science of classification. The word finds its roots in the Greek τάξις, taxis (meaning 'order' or 'arrangement') and νόμος, nomos (meaning 'law' or 'science'). Taxonomy uses taxonomic units, known as taxa. In addition, the word is also used as a count noun: a taxonomy, or taxonomic scheme, is a particular classification ("the taxonomy of ... "), arranged in a hierarchical structure. Typically this is organized by supertype-subtype relationships, also called generalization-specialization relationships, or less formally, parent-child relationships. In such an inheritance relationship, the subtype by definition has the same properties, behaviors, and constraints as the supertype plus one or more additional properties, behaviors, or constraints. For example: car is a subtype of vehicle, so any car is also a vehicle, but not every vehicle is a car. Therefore a type needs to satisfy more constraints to be a car than to be a vehicle. Another example: any shirt is also a piece of clothing, but not every piece of clothing is a shirt. Hence, a type must satisfy more parameters to be a shirt than to be a piece of clothing.

Related terms:
Taxonomy management

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Controlled vocabulary types

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