Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the fifth most written about¹ binomial name of all species. I'm having trouble coming to terms with the possibility that such a well researched and studied organism has never been given a shorter vernacular name. I can't find one listed anywhere.

Is there any short common name for it? Even a colloquial one? Maybe a pet name common to microbiologists or students in the labs of some particular region? I'm mostly interested in English but how about in other languages?

I am aware it can be abbreviated to P. aeruginosa. I don't consider that a common name. Pseudomonas by itself refers to a genus of around 191 species.

¹ "most written about" meaning mentioned in the most books or volumes of Google Books' English corpus (ngram data), according to my own research. The top five are: Homo sapiens, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Not as far as I know. It's sometimes referred to as Pseudomonas alone, but not more. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jan 24, 2015 at 12:48
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Pythagoras is written about a lot in Philosophy and Mathematics, yet I've never seen a shortened version of his name. Some organisms do have shortened versions, e.g. C. diff. It works. I suspect P. aerug is clumsy to say. Pseudomonas is easy to say. $\endgroup$ Jan 24, 2015 at 14:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ In medicine, it's often shortened to just "Pseudomonas", but that's about it. $\endgroup$ Jan 24, 2015 at 17:36
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ That's odd because I've never heard Pythagoras the Samian, the mathematician, not the sculptor of the same name, referred to by anything but just his first name. Shortening to just the genus "Pseudomonas" might make sense in medicine where infections by other Pseudomonas species are rare (and perhaps treated similarly to P. aeruginosa?), but for microbiologists there are 190 other Pseudomonas species to distinguish between when referring to P. aeruginosa. $\endgroup$
    – Qubei
    Jan 24, 2015 at 21:18
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Staph, Strep, H. flu, Toxo, there are a few more. But partly it depends on how easy it is to say. @Qubei - yes, there are a few other Pseudomonas species that can cause trouble, but P. aeruginosa is by far the most common; if it's a different species, we'd say the whole thing. $\endgroup$ Jan 25, 2015 at 3:30

1 Answer 1


I think there's a difference between a vernacular or common name ("tiger", "cat", "pigeon", "elm", "pine") and a pet name or nickname as you use it here. The former are names in human languages for a particular kind of animal or plant, while the latter are a colloquial name used by professionals to refer to a particular species, often based on its scientific name.

I can't think of many micro-organisms that have a true vernacular name -- most micro-organisms were given fancy scientific names, and those were used consistently thereafter. The only proper microscopic common name I can think of is "slipper animalcules" -- but I'd be happy to be proved wrong!

Lots of micro-organisms have pet-names -- E. coli, C. diff., "smallpox", "Ebola", "white nose", even Pelagibacter ubique -- but they're either based on the scientific name or on the disease the organisms cause. AFAIK (and based on the comments), Pseudomonas aeruginosa doesn't have one. However, of the list of species you list, only H. sapiens has a vernacular name, while the others only have nicknames based on their scientific name, so I'm not sure it's that surprising! IMO it's mostly macro-organisms that get vernacular names.

  • $\begingroup$ Good distinction between vernacular and pet name/nickname, but in the end I am looking for either. $\endgroup$
    – Qubei
    May 28, 2015 at 12:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .