[Taxacom] Terminology of trinomials

Andy Mabbett andy at pigsonthewing.org.uk
Mon Dec 31 02:50:07 CST 2007

In message <477833C7.2050407 at skynet.be>, Laurent Raty <l.raty at skynet.be>

>> AIUI, the name:
>>  Homo sapiens idaltu
>>  is a trinomial (aka trinominal ?), consisting, in order, of a genus,
>>  specific name (or "specific epithet") and sub-specific name (or
>Based on the terminology of the ICZN, this should be called a "trinomen"
>(pl. "trinomina"), or a "trinominal name" - although simply "trinominal"
>is sometimes encountered as well, and "trinomial" is sometimes used
>instead of "trinominal" in practice. ("Trinomial" simply means "made of
>three parts", while "trinominal" is "made of three names".)

Thank you. Does this apply to other kingdoms also, or do they use
different terminology?

The reason I ask (should anyone not yet be familiar with work on the
species microformat) is that a microformat is a way of marking up
metadata in page content using HTML classes.

For example:

        <span class="biota">
          <span class="vernacular">

          (<span class="binominal">
             Erithacus rubecula


and we're currently determining the best "labels" for each rank,

I'll post a full list of proposed labels, as they currently stand,
shortly. One issue is whether to use English names ("kingdom", "class",
"order", etc.) or Latin equivalents ("regnum", "classis", "ordo"). I
currently favour the later, to avoid potential ambiguity if the English
names are already in use in mark-up. Any other thoughts are welcome.

>A trinomen is the combination of a generic name, a specific name (or
>epithet) and a subspecific name (or epithet).
>The whole combination is the scientific name of a subspecies (here an
>extinct subspecies of man).

In this case, I think the best labels might be trinomen, genus, species
& subspecies (in addition to the parent wrapper, denoting the use of the
microformat, which is currently "biota", but likely to become "hbiota",
in keeping with other microformats such as hcalendar):

      <span class="biota">

        <span class="trinomen">

          <span class="genus">

          <span class="species">

          <span class="subspecies">



(There will be parsing rules, so that, provided the span with
class="trinomen" contains exactly three words (two for a binomen), the
lower levels do not need to be specified; thereby reducing bloat in

>> However, the archaic taxonomic name for a Little Ringed Plover [1]
>>  Charadrius dubius curonicus
>>  Is this also a "trinomial", or does that form have a different name?
>>If not, how are the two types of name distinguished?
>This name is in no way archaic, and is fully comparable to the other
>one. Charadrius dubius (a binomen, or binominal name, designating a
>species) is the name of LRP, like Homo sapiens is the name of our
>species; Ch. d. curonicus is the name of the subspecies of LRP that
>occurs in Europe.

Oops! I think I pickled a bad example; but so long as that pattern is
what is usually followed, that's not a problem.

Thank you to everyone else who replied, too.

[For anyone requiring additional background, see

Andy Mabbett
            *  Say "NO!" to compulsory UK ID Cards:  <http://www.no2id.net/>
            *  Free Our Data:  <http://www.freeourdata.org.uk>
            *  Are you using Microformats, yet: <http://microformats.org/> ?

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