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From the present active participle of sciō (I can, know, understand), sciēns, scientem (knowing, aware; having expertise) +‎ -ia (abstract noun suffix), from Proto-Italic *skijō, from Proto-Indo-European *skey- (to distinguish, to dissect), then from Proto-Indo-European*sek- (to cut).

Attested from Varro onwards (early 1st century B.C.E.).


  • (Classical) IPA(key)/skiˈen.ti.a/[s̠kiˈɛn̪t̪iä]
  • (Ecclesiastical) IPA(key)/ʃiˈen.t͡si.a/[ʃiˈɛnt̪͡s̪iä]


scientia f (genitive scientiae); first declension

  1. (abstract):
    1. knowledge, awareness, cognizance (the state of knowing a fact or situation)
      Synonyms: cognitiōnōtitia
    2. learning, learnedness, erudition (the state of having an extensive knowledge)
      Synonyms: ēruditiōsapientia
    3. expert understanding of a skill, art, science, etc. (also as opposed to practice)
      Synonyms: intellēctusars
      Antonyms: ūsusexperientiaexercitātiō
  2. (concrete):
    1. (philosophy) that which is known (as opposed to a mere belief, translating Ancient Greek ἐπιστήμη (epistḗmē))
      Antonyms: opīniōsuspiciōconiectūra
    2. (Medieval Latin, logic) (as distinguished according to the direction: from cause to effect or vice versa, corr. to Ancient Greek διότι (dióti) vs. ὅτι (hóti))
      scientia propter quid ― knowledge derived from cause to effect
      scientia quia ― knowledge derived from effect to cause
    3. the knowledge, lore, scholarship of a particular discipline
      Synonyms: doctrīnaars
      scientia speculātīva (Medieval Latin) ― theoretical knowledge
    4. the know-how, skill, expertise (applied knowledge)
      Synonyms: perītiaars
      scientia practica (Medieval Latin) ― practical knowledge
    5. (Medieval Latin) a science (an organized branch of methodically-acquired knowledge with a unified subject-matter)
      Synonym: disciplīna
      Hyponyms: historia nātūrālisphilosophia nātūrālisphysica (all “natural science”)
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