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FAO recommended word list

This list contains words and terms frequently used in FAO information products. When in doubt, use The Concise Oxford English Dictionary, latest edition. The most important point to bear in mind is that usage should be consistent throughout. Remember too that FAO uses "z" spellings (such as "organization") except for such common exceptions as advertise, analyse, catalyse, hydrolyse, paralyse and supervise. Contact the Chief, Editorial Group, for any clarification.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z

A

above-mentioned
abridgement
not abridgment
abscise not absciss
access (v.) (computer term)
accommodation not accommodations
accoutrement not accouterment
acknowledgement not acknowledgment
adaptor
addendum
, pl. addenda not italicized
ad hoc not italicized
ad lib not italicized
advertise
advice
(n.), advise (v.)
adviser not advisor, but note advisory
aeon
aerial
aerodrome, aerofoil
aeroplane
but note aircraft, airliner
aetiology
not etiology
affect (v.) to have an effect on, cf. effect
afforestation
where previous land type/use was not forestry
affranchise
aflatoxin
aforementioned, aforesaid
after-care, after-effect
afterwards
(adv.) not afterward
ageing
age group
agenda,
pl. agendas
agribusiness
agriculturist
not agriculturalist
agrifood
agro-
compounds closed up except before vowel, e.g. agro-ecology, agro-ecosystem, agro-industry, agroforestry, agrometeorology, agrosilvicultural, agrosilvipastoral
aide-mémoire, pl. aides-mémoire
airborne
air cargo
air-conditioning, air-conditioned
aircraft, airdrop
air-dried
(adj.), air-dry (v.)
airfield
air freight
airhole, airlift, airliner

airplane – use aeroplane
airtight
alfalfa
alga,
pl. algae
alkaline, alkalinization
alley cropping
all right
not alright
all-time
(adj.)
along with – together with preferred
alternate(ly), alternative(ly) the first means "by turns", which can be remembered by thinking of the verb "to alternate", or take turns. The second implies a choice between alternatives. An alternate method is one to be used every second time; an alternative method is one that can be chosen instead of some other method
aluminium not aluminum
American – United States preferred, except in references to the American continent or the Americas
amid not amidst
amino acid
among
not amongst
anaemia not anemia
analogue not analog
analyse not analyze
and/or – a simple "or" will usually suffice
anglophone – English-speaking preferred
antenna, pl. antennae (zool.), antennas (aerials)
anthelmintic
anti-erosion
antinutrient, antinutritional, antipollution
appendix,
pl. appendices (anat. or zool.), appendixes (books)
apprise
aquaculture, aquaculturist

Arabian Gulf – avoid; see Persian Gulf
armyworm
artefact
not artifact
artisan (n.), artisanal (adj.)
Asia and the Pacific region
assist + in + gerund or noun not assist + inf.
audiocassette, audiotape, audiovisual
Australasia – use Oceania
automobile – use vehicle or car
autumn
not fall; lower case
axle-hole
axletree

B

Bachelor of Arts degree (BA)
Bachelor of Science degree (B.Sc.)
backcross (n., v.), backlog
back-reef
backscatter
(radar term)
backstop (v.) – support, etc. preferred
backup (n., adj.), back up (v.)
backward
(adj.), backwards (adv.)
balance sheet
band-saw
bandwidth
barefoot, barefooted
bare-handed
baseline
basis,
pl. bases
Bedouin
beehive
beekeeper, beekeeping
beeswax
behaviour
not behavior
benchmark
benefited, benefiting
berseem
(fodder crop)
biannual twice a year
biased
biennial
every second year
biennium, pl. biennia period of two years
bilateral
billion
1 000 million
bimonthly twice a month or every two months – best to specify (similarly biweekly: twice a week or every two weeks)
bio- compounds closed up, except before some vowels, e.g. bio-available, bio-assay, but bioelectricity, bioenergy
biological diversity or biodiversity follow the author
birth date
birthplace
birth rate, birth weight
bivalve
black gram
blackleg
(sheep and cattle disease)
black tongue (disease of dogs)
bluetongue (disease of sheep), bluetongue lizard
boatbuilder, boatbuilding, boatmaker, boatmaking
boatyard
boll-rot
boll weevil
bollworm
bona fides
(n.), bona fide (adj., adv.) not italicized
bookkeeping
borehole
bottle-feed, bottle-feeding
bottleneck
breadfruit
breakdown
(n.), break down (v.)
breakthrough (n.), break through (v.)
breastfeed, breastfeeding
breastmilk
briquette, briquetting
broad bean
preferred to fava bean
broadleaf (n.)
broad-leaved
brood fish, brood hen
broodstock
brush fire
Brussels sprouts
budgeted, budgeting
bud rot
bud-take
budwood
buffalo
, pl. buffaloes
buildup
(n.), build up (v.)
built-in (adj.), built-up (adj.)
bulletin board
bureau,
pl. bureaus
burn, burnt
(past participle)
buses, busing not busses, bussing
bush fire
bushmeat
butterfat
bycatch
by-law
bypass
by-product
byte
(computer term)

C

cacao virus
cadastral, cadastre
calibre
not caliber
Calorie (with upper-case C) –1 000 calories, but kilocalorie (abbrev. kcal) preferred
calorie – when not used as a measure, food energy preferred, e.g. Groundnuts can contribute food energy to a diet, not Groundnuts can contribute calories ...
camel-hair
can, canning
or tin, tinning be consistent
cancellation
cancelled, cancelling
candour
not candor
cantaloupe
car
not automobile
carburettor not carburetter, carburetor
carcass, pl. carcasses
carryover
(n., adj.), carry over (v.)
case study
cash crop
(n., v.)
cash flow
cashew nut
castor seed
preferred to castor bean
catalogue not catalog
catalyse not catalyze
cattle herd of cattle, e.g. 12 head of cattle, not 12 cattle
cattle breeder, cattle feed, cattle hide (but cowhide), cattle owner
CEC
Commission of the European Communities (see also EC, EU)
Celsius, centigrade (abbrev. C) two names for the same system of measuring temperature, the first being that of its inventor. Always give temperature in Celsius. The formulae for converting from Fahrenheit to centigrade and vice versa are: F = [(9 Χ C) χ 5] + 32; C = 5(F – 32) χ 9. Note that temperatures are written with a space between the number and the unit, e.g. 35 °C
central capitalize when part of a proper name of a recognized place or region, e.g. Central America, Central African Republic; lower case when it refers to direction or geographical division (the central part of an area), e.g. central Africa, central Europe
centre (n., v.) not center (United States form only if quoted or part of a proper name)
centrepiece
centuries
spell out the names of centuries, e.g. the twenty-first century
cf. (abbrev.) compare
chainsaw
chalkboard
changeover
(n.), change over (v.)
channelled, channelling
chastise
check dam
checklist
checkup
(n.), check up (v.)
cheese-maker, cheese-making
cheque
not check (mode of payment)
chequerboard, chequers not checkerboard, checkers
chickpea
child-bearing
(adj.)
childbirth
child care
chilli, chillies
or chili, chilies be consistent
chiselled not chiseled
circumcise
clamorous
clamour
classmate, classroom
clayey
clear-cutting
(n.), clear-cut (adj.) evident, clear-cut (v.) to cut all trees in a stand
clear-eyed
clear-fell, clear-felling
clear-headed
clearinghouse
clear-out
(n.), clear out (v.)
clear-sighted
clipboard
clone selection
not clonal selection
co- most compounds closed up, but note co-author, co-chair, co-investor, co-worker
coal mining
coco, coconut
coco is the name of a palm tree, coconut its seed
cocoa bean not cacao bean
cold chain, cold store, cold storage
collective nouns
may take either a singular or a plural verb, according to sense. The number of books ordered is large. A large number of books have been ordered
coloration
colour
not color
colourable
colourless
combated, combating
committed, commitment
committee
capitalize only when part of a name
common market not an official name on its own; use lower case
compare use compare with not compare to, in comparison with not in comparison to
complement something that completes
compliment expression of praise
comprise not comprised of, e.g. the strategy comprises three elements
compromise
computer terms
follow manufacturer’s spelling for hardware and software names, e.g. QuarkXpress. Many ordinary English words also have a specific computer sense, e.g. access (v.), add-in (n., adj.), database, data file, debug, format (formatting, formatter), hard copy; hard code; hard-wired, input (v.), log on (v.), online, offline, program (programming, programmer), real time (n.), real-time (adj.)
concurrence preferred to co-occurrence
connection not connexion
cont. (abbrev.) continued
continual going on for a long time, recurring at intervals, seeming never to come to an end
continuous uninterrupted
convenor not convener
cooperate, cooperation, cooperative
co-opt
coordinate, coordination

corn – maize, grain or cereal preferred, depending on the particular case, but corn on the cob, sweet corn
cornerstone
corrigendum,
pl. corrigenda
cost-effectiveness
(n.), cost-effective (adj.), cost effective (adv.)
cottonseed, cottonseed oil
council
(n.) administrative body
councillor council member
counsel (n., v.) advice, to advise
counsellor adviser
counter- compounds closed up
cowhide, cowpea
cow’s milk
as opposed to breastmilk; cow milk as a commodity (also goat milk)
crisis, pl. crises
criss-cross
criterion,
pl. criteria
cropland
cross-breed
(n., v.) cross-breeding, cross-bred (adj.)
cross-check, cross-fertilization, cross-pollination, cross-reference, cross-section
curriculum,
pl. curricula
cutback
(n.), cut back (v.)
cutoff (n.), cut off (v.)

D

data always use as plural. The rarely found singular is datum (as in datum line)
data bank
database
data file, data sheet
date-palm
day care
(n., adj.)
day labourer
day length
(n.) but day-length sensitive
daylight, daytime
day-to-day
(adj.), but from day to day
death rate
debug
(computer term)
decades use figures, e.g. the 1960s, not the sixties and not the 1960’s
decision-maker, decision-making
deep-freeze, deep-frozen
deep-sea fishing
de facto
not italicized
defence not defense (United States form only if quoted or proper name)
deflection not deflexion
deforest, deforestation
deleafing
demand-driven
(adj.)
dendro-energy wood-based energy
dependant (n.), dependent (adj.)
desktop publishing (abbrev. DTP)
despatch – dispatch preferred
deworm
dialogue
not dialog
diameter not diametre
diamondback moth
diarrhoea
not diarrhea
dieback (n.), die back (v.)
different from, not different than or different to
digester, e.g. biogas digester
dioecious not diecious
dipnet
Director-General,
pl. Directors-General (and Assistant Directors-General)
disc
(all uses except computers)
discoloration
discolour
discreet
tactful
discrete individually distinct, separate
disenfranchise preferred to disfranchise
disk (computers only)
dispatch
doctorate
(Ph.D.)
dolorous, dolour not dolor
downtime, downtrend
downward
(adj.), downwards (adv.)
draft a draft proposal, rough draft, to draft a report, bank draft
draught for traction (as in draught animals)
drawback (n.), draw back (v.)
drier (n., adj.) or dryer (n.) but be consistent
driftnet
drinking-water
drop-off
(n.), drop off (v.)
dry farming (n.), dry farm (v.)
dry land (n.), dryland (adj.)
dry rot
due
should only be attached to a noun or pronoun, often with the verb "to be", e.g. Crop failure was due to drought. Owing to is used with a verb, e.g. The crops failed owing to drought. (Not The crops failed due to drought.) Both due and owing are financial terms and tend to be overused. It is better to substitute result from, because, etc., e.g. Crop failure resulted from drought, or The crops failed because of drought
dyke not dike

E

earthwork
East Coast fever
east, eastern
capitalized when part of a proper name or political grouping, e.g. East Africa, Eastern Europe (political), Near East, Far East, Eastern customs, Eastern Hemisphere; lower case for direction or geographical grouping, e.g. eastern Africa, eastern Europe (geographical)
eastward (adj.), eastwards (adv.)
echograph
echo sounder, echo sounding
eco-
compounds closed up, e.g. ecoclimate
economic, economical economic is the adjective for economics, economical for economy. "An economic rent is one in the fixing of which the laws of supply and demand have had free play; an economical rent is one that is not extravagant" (Fowler)
EC European Community (supersedes previous EEC), community within the EU (see also EU, CEC; for full explanation consult Yearbook of International Organizations in the David Lubin Library)
effect (v.), not effectuate; to bring about, cf. affect
e.g.
not italicized, not followed by a comma and not used with etc.
eggplant
e-mail
empanel, empanelled
encase
not incase
encyclopaedia
end use, end user
end-point
end product
enfranchise
enquire, enquiry
not inquire, inquiry
enrol, enrolled, enrolment
ensilage, silage
silage is the product of the process of ensilage
ensure to make sure cf. insure
enterprise

eon – aeon preferred
equalled, equalling
equator, equatorial
lower case except as part of an official proper name, e.g. Equatorial Current, but equatorial Africa. See also central, east, north, south, west
erodible
erratum,
pl. errata
Eskimos
but Inuits preferred in North American contexts
esophagus – use oesophagus
estrous, estrum, estrus – use oestrous, oestrum, oestrus
et al.
italicized; only use for references within a text when there are more than three authors; never use in a bibliography (unless it it impossible to find all the authors’ names)
etc. not italicized; redundant after lists preceded by: for example, including, such as, or like, since these expressions mean, without ambiguity, that the list that follows is not complete
etiology – use aetiology
et seq.
italicized
EU European Union (for full explanation see Yearbook of International Organizations in the David Lubin Library)
evapotranspiration
ex ante
italicized
excise
exercise
explant
ex post, ex post facto
italicized
ex situ
italicized
extra- compounds closed up, except when followed by "a" or a proper noun, e.g. extra-atmospheric, extra-Community trade

F

fact sheet
faeces
not feces
fall – autumn preferred for the season
falloff (n.)
fan-leaf
FAO headquarters

farmgate
farm hand
farmhouse, farmland
farm worker
farmyard
farther, further
use farther for literal distances, further for everything else, e.g. We must travel two kilometres farther. I can go no further with this project; a farther planet, a farther journey, a further consideration, a further effort
fast food
fava bean – broad bean preferred
favour, favourable, favourite not favor-
feedback, feedlot
feedgrain(s)
and feedstuffs for animal consumption, foodgrains and foodstuffs for human consumption
fermenter
ferruginous,
not ferrugineous
fertilizer not fertiliser
fewer, less use fewer for countable items, less for amounts, e.g. fewer horses, less rice
fibre
fibreboard, fibreglass
fieldbook
field guide
field test
(n.), field-test (v.)
field trial
fieldwork, field worker
filmstrip
filter paper
fine tuning
(n.), fine-tune (v.)
finfish(es)
finger millet
firebreak
fire crew
firefighter

firewood – avoid, use fuelwood
First World – avoid, use industrialized countries
first, second
, etc. not firstly, secondly, etc.
first aid, first-aid kit
first-hand, second-hand, third-hand
... (adj.), but at first hand
first-rate
(adj.)
fish, pl. fish unless referring to more than one species of fish
fish culture
fish farm, fish farming, fish farmer
fishing gear, fishing tackle
fish-liver oil
fishmeal, fishnet
fish oil, fish pond, fish seed, fish stocks
five-year plan
fledgling
flier
– preferred to flyer
flip chart
floodgate, floodplain
flood tide
floodwall, floodwater
flow chart

flyer – flier preferred
focused, focuses, focusing
foetus
not fetus
-fold compounds closed up, e.g. twofold, twentyfold
follow-up (adj., n), follow up (v.)
food-borne
food crops
not foodcrops
food for work (n.), food-for-work (adj.)
foodgrain(s) (for human consumption), feedgrain(s) (for animal consumption)
foodstuff(s), feedstuff(s) as above
foot-and-mouth disease (abbrev. FMD)
forego to precede, but forgo to go without
forest land
forest-tree
forklift
format, formatted, formatting, formatter
formula,
pl. formulae (math., chem.) but formulas (methods)
forum,
pl. fora
foreword
(of book) not forword or forward
forward (adj., v.), forwards (adv.)
Fourth World – use least-developed countries
fractions
always hyphenated, e.g. three-quarters
franchise
francophone – French-speaking preferred
-free compounds hyphenated, e.g. disease-free, germ-free
freelance
freeze-dried, freeze-drier, freeze-dry
freshwater
(n., adj.)
fruit fly
fruit-set
(n.), set fruit (v.)
fruit-tree
fuelwood
not firewood
fulfil, fulfillable, fulfilled, fulfiller, fulfilling, fulfilment
full-scale
(adj.), but at full scale
full time
(n., adv.) full-time (adj.),
fundraiser (n.), fundraising (n., adj.) but raise funds (v.)
further see farther

G

gene bank, gene flow, gene pool
geoprobe, geothermic
germ cell, germ line
germplasm
gigabyte
(computer term), (abbrev. GB)
gillnet
glasshouse – greenhouse preferred
glycerine not glycerin
goatskin
goodbye
, pl. goodbyes
governing bodies
government
lower case when general; upper case when a specific government is named, e.g. the Government of Italy, the Italian Government but the government passed anti-inflationary measures
grain-fed
gram
(abbrev. g) not gramme
grapefruit, grapevine
graph paper
grasshopper
grassroots
(n., adj.)
gravelled
green belt, green revolution
greenhouse
grey
not gray
ground cover
groundnut
(Apios americana); peanut or common groundnut (Arachis hypogaea)
ground rent
groundwater, groundwork

guestimate – avoid; guess or estimate preferred
guidebook, guidelines
guinea fowl, guinea pig

Gulf, the Gulfs – see Persian Gulf

H

haemo- not hemo, e.g. haemoglobin
hair coat
half a dozen, half-dozen
half-blood, half-brother
half moon
handbook
hand-delivered
handicraft
(n.), handcraft (v.)
handline (fishing term)
handout
hand-pollination
(n.), hand-pollinate (v.)
handsaw
hand sprayer
(n.), hand-spray (v.)
hand tools, hand weeding
hardback
hard cover
hardpan
(soil term)
hard-wired (computer term)
hard-working
hazelnut
headquarters
not HQ
health care
health services not health care services
heartwood
heat-resistant
heavy-duty
(adj.)
hectare (abbrev. ha)
herdowner
herdsman – herder preferred
heterogeneous composed of parts of different kinds; mixed
heterogenous having origin in an outside source
high-yielding varieties (abbrev. HYVs)
hillside, hilltop
historic, historical
not to be used interchangeably. A historic event (NB not an historic event) is one that makes history even if it happened only ten minutes ago; a historical event is one that occurred in the past and has been recorded by historians
Holy See a see is a bishop’s jurisdiction, and the Holy See is the see of the Pope. It is not another name for the Vatican. It is the Holy See, not the Vatican, which has Permanent Observer status at FAO
home care
home-grown, home-made
home page
homespun
homoeopathic, homoeopathy
homogeneous
consisting of parts all of the same kind
homogenous corresponding in structure because of common origin
honey bee
honeycomb, honeydew
honorary, honour, honourable
the United States spelling, honorable, should be kept in United States titles
hoof, pl. hooves
-hopper
compounds closed up, e.g. grasshopper, leafhopper, planthopper, ricehopper
horticulturist
hydro-
compounds closed up

I

ibid. not italicized
-ics construe nouns ending in -ics (statistics, ethics, politics) as singular when they denote an art or science, e.g. politics is the art of government. Construe them as plural when they denote activities or practices, e.g. the senator’s politics are democratic
idem not italicized
i.e. not italicized, not followed by a comma
ill- hyphenate compounds used as adjectives, e.g. ill-gotten, ill-natured, ill-omened
immunoassay
impact
(n.)
imperilled
imprest
fund or account
improvise
inasmuch as
inbred, inbreeding
inbuilt
incise
in-country

in-depth
index,
pl. indexes (indices when technical or statistical)
indispensable
infra-axillary
infrared
(adj.)
infrastructure
in-house
innovate
inoculate
input
(n., v.) (computer term)
inquire, inquiry – enquire, enquiry preferred
in-service
in situ
italicized
install, installation, instalment
instil
insure
for insurance policies only (cf. ensure)
in vitro
italicized
in vivo
italicized
inter- compounds closed up, e.g. interaction, intercountry, interdepartmental, intergovernmental, interregional, interrelated
inter alia
italicized
intern (n., v.) not interne
Internet, the
intra-
compounds closed up, except before a vowel
Intranet, the
invigorate
inward
(adj.), inwards (adv.)
its possessive, it’s it is

J

jewellery not jewelry
Jr (abbrev.) not preceded by a comma and not followed by a full stop, e.g. John Jones Jr
judgement (judgment [law] – a judge or court's formal ruling)

K

kat not khat or qat; an evergreen shrub of the Near East
kharif summer growing season in parts of Near East and South Asia
kilobyte (abbrev. KB), (computer term)
kilocalorie (abbrev. kcal) preferred to Calorie as a measure of food energy
kilogram (abbrev. kg) not kilogramme
kilometre (abbrev. km) not kilometer
know-how (n.) – expertise, knowledge, etc. preferred
knowledgeable
kumquat
not cumquat

L

labelled, labelling
laborious
labour
labour force
labour-intensive
labourer
laissez-passer
italicized
lakh not lac (of rupees)
lambskin, lambswool
landfill, landform
landholder, landholding
landlocked
landmark
land mass, land mine
landowner, landownership
land-poor
landrace, landslide
land use, land-use planning
large scale
(n.), large-scale (adj.)
lastly – avoid
latitude, longitude correct ways of writing include10°30' north latitude; longitude 90° west; the zone from 10° to 40° north latitude (use the abbreviations N, E, W and S for latitude and longitude only in tables)
layout (n.), lay out (v.)
lead (n., pres. v.), led (past, past part.)
lead time
leaf blight, leaf curl
leafhopper, leafminer
leaf roll
leaf spot disease, leaf spotting
learned
not learnt
leaseholder
least-developed countries
(abbrev. LDCs)
lend (v.), but loan (n.)
liaise
licence
(n.), license (v.)
licensee, licensor
life cycle
lifelong
life-saving
life span
lifestyle, lifetime
-like
compounds usually hyphenated, e.g. business-like, but note lifelike
like, incorrect for such as, as, as though, as if
line drawing
liquefaction, liquefy
litchi
not lichee, lychee, lichi
litre not liter; avoid abbreviating (unless combined with a prefix, e.g. ml for millilitre)
live weight (n.)
log-on (adj.), log on (v.)
longhorn
long-lasting
longline
longstanding
(adj.)
long term (n.), long-term (adj.)
lookout (n.)
loose-leaf (adj.)
lucerne – alfalfa preferred

M

MA Master of Arts
M&E (abbrev.) monitoring and evaluation
macro- all compounds closed up, e.g. macroeconomic
maize meal, maize oil
make-up
(n.)
man-day – use person-day or workday
mango
, pl. mangoes
manifold

mankind – humanity, humankind, etc. preferred
man-made – human-induced, caused by humans, caused by human activities, etc. preferred
man-made forest – use planted forest or plantation forest
manoeuvre, manoeuvrability
not maneuver
manpower – workforce, human resources, labour, personnel, etc. preferred
many-headed, many-sided
Masai
or Maasai follow the author
marketplace
mass media
master’s degree
e.g. MA, M.Sc.
maximum, pl. maxima
meagre
not meager
mealybug
medical terms
use lower case for names of diseases, syndromes, tests, etc., except for proper names contained therein (Hodgkin’s disease, Wasserman test). Names of diseases deriving from infectious organisms should be lower case and roman (trichinosis, streptococcus)
medium term (n.), medium-term (adj.)
megabyte (abbrev. MB)
member countries lower case
Member Governments
Member Nations
Members
as in FAO Members
Member States – avoid with reference to FAO
memorandum, pl. memoranda
merchandise
(n., v.)
meter, metre – the first is the object that measures, the second the unit of measure
micro- compounds closed up, e.g. microeconomics, but note micro-organism
mid-
compounds: mid-1980s, mid-year, mid-point, mid-term, but midday, midnight, midsummer, midway, midweek
middle age (n.), middle-aged (adj.)
Middle East – use Near East (except in MINEADEP and other cases when specifically required)
middle-sized – medium-sized preferred
middleman – use intermediary
midway
(n., adj.)
millennium
mini-
compounds closed up, e.g. minibus, minicassette
minimum, pl. minima
Minister for
..., Ministry of ..., as in Minister for Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture, but Ministry for Foreign Affairs
misadvice (n.), misadvise (v.)
mitre not miter
mollusc
mono
- compounds closed up except when followed by a vowel, e.g. mono-unsaturated
mortise not mortice
Moslem – use Muslim
mosquito-borne
motor area, motor bicycle
motorcycle, motorcyclist
motor-driven
motor nerve, motor spirit, motor vehicle
mould
not mold (n., v.)
mould-board
moulder
moulding
mouldy
moult
(v.) not molt
movable
Mr, Mrs, Ms
not followed by a full stop
M.Sc. Master of Science
mucus (n.), mucous (adj.)
multi- compounds closed up unless followed by i, e.g. multi-institutional
multinational – see transnational
mung bean
Muslim
not Moslem

N

nationwide
Near East
not Middle East (except in MINEADEP and other cases when Middle East is specifically required)
neighbour
New World
newsletter
night-time
non-
compounds usually hyphenated, but note nonconformity
no one
north, northeast, northeastern, northern
capitalized when part of a proper name or political grouping, e.g. North Atlantic, North Africa, Northern Hemisphere; lower case for direction or geographical grouping, e.g. northern Africa
north temperate zone
northward
(adj.), northwards (adv.)
northwest, northwestern see north, but note North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan
notebook
noticeable
nut-tree

O

occurrence, occurring
ochre
odoriferous
odorous, odour, odourless
oesophagus,
pl. oesophagi; not esophagus
oestrus (n.), oestrous (adj.)
off-farm
offence
but note offensive
office worker
offline
off-season
offset, offshoot, offshore
off-site
offtake
off-type
non-standard plant variety
oilcake, oilmeal
oil-palm
oilseed
ongoing
(adj.) no hyphen
online
onshore
on-site
onward
(adj.), onwards (adv.)
op cit. not italicized
organize, organization unless part of an exceptional proper noun, e.g. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Organization (the) upper case only when referring to FAO
orient not orientate
out- compounds closed up
outside not outside of
outward (adj.), outwards (adv.)
over- compounds usually closed up
owing – see due

P

paddy rice
paddy-field
paediatric
paedo-
not pedo-; compounds closed up
palaeo- not paleo-; compounds closed up, e.g. palaeocene, palaeoanthropology
palm oil
pan-
if the second part of the compound is lower case, close up, e.g. pantheism; otherwise hyphenate, e.g. pan-American, pan-Germanism, pan-Hellenic, pan-Slavism
papaw use for Asimina triloba only
papaya use for Carica papaya only
paperback
para-
compounds closed up
parallel, paralleled
paralyse
particle board
part-time
(adj.), part time (adv.)
passionfruit
pastureland
peacekeeping
peanut
use for Arachis hypogaea only, otherwise groundnut
peatmoss
pedagogue
pencilled
people's participation
per annum
italicized
per capita preferred to per caput; not italicized
percent not per cent; use % only in tabular matter, e.g. 3% (no space)
per diem not italicized
peri-urban
per se
italicized
Persian – Iranian or of the Islamic Republic of Iran preferred
Persian Gulf is the standard geographical designation for the body of water lying between the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic Republic of Iran; however, in documents, publications or statements emanating from a Member Government or intergovernmental organization, the original designation should be retained
person-day
Petri dish
Ph.D.
Doctor of Philosophy
phosphorus (n.) the element, phosphorous (adj.) containing phosphorus
photo- compounds closed up, e.g. photoelectric, photocopier (n.), photocopy (n., v.)
phyto- compounds closed up
piece rate (n.), piece-rate (adj.)
piecework
pigeon pea
pig meat
pigskin
pigsty,
(pl.) pigsties
pimento,
(pl.) pimentos
pipeline
pisciculture
planthopper
plateau
, pl. plateaus not plateaux
plough not plow
PO Box
pod borer
policy-maker, policy-making
poly-
compounds closed up, e.g. polyunsaturated
polyethylene not polythene
post- compounds usually closed up except where confusion might arise, e.g. post-harvest or when followed by t, e.g. post-translational
power-saw
p./pp.
(sing. /pl.) referring to one specific page, e.g. p. 40, referring to a series of pages, e.g. pp. 40-42, referring to a total number of pages, e.g. 40 pp.
practice (n.), practise (v.)
pre- compounds closed up except where confusion might arise, e.g. pre-empt, pre-set, pre-test, pre-war
prefer, preferred, preferring
prescribe
to recommend or impose a practice, etc.
presently – means soon; use at present or currently to mean now
pretence not pretense
preventive not preventative
price fixing
prima facie
not italicized
printout (n.), print out (v.)
print run
privilege
proactive

problematical – problematic preferred
pro forma
program, programmer
(computer terms)
programme for all non-computer uses (but do not change if United States spelling used in a proper name)
-proof compounds usually closed up except where confusion might arise, e.g. acid-proof, failure-proof, gas-proof
propel, propeller
prophecy
(n.), prophesy (v.)
pro-rated, pro-rating
proscribe
to prevent or ban a practice, etc.
proved has (been) proved, but proven ability or case
prototype
provitamin A
pure-bred
(n., adj.)
purse seine (n.), purse-seine (v.)

Q

quasi- avoid where possible; if necessary to use, hyphenate, e.g. quasi-official
quarrel, quarrelled

R

R&D (abbrev.) research and development
rabi winter growing season in parts of Near East and South Asia (opposite of kharif)
rachis, pl. rachides
rainfall, rainfed
rain forest
rainstorm, rainwater
-raising
compounds hyphenated, e.g. cattle-raising
rangeland
rapeseed oil
re-
compounds closed up except when followed by "e" or where necessary to distinguish meaning, e.g. recount/re-count, resort/re-sort, recover/re-cover, reform/re-form
realization, realize
real time
(n.), real-time (adj.) (computer term)
record-keeping
recur, recurrence
not reoccur or reoccurrence
reflection not reflexion
reforestation not reafforestation
regime no accent
regrettable
religions, religious groups
capitalize the names of religions, churches and religious groups, but do not capitalize the word church (or order, movement, heresy, etc.), e.g. the Roman Catholic church. For places of worship, capitalize the word church, temple, mosque, etc. only if it is part of the name of the building or place
remote sensing
revoke
but revocable
ringbark
(v.)
ring spot
river bed
riverbank, riverside
roadside
root crop
root-knot nematode
root rot
rootstock
round table
(n.), round-table (adj.)
roundwood
rumour
not rumor
runoff
ryegrass

S

Sahara the Sahara, not the Sahara Desert
Sahel, the
Sahelian zone
saltbush
salt-lick
saltwater
(n., adj.)
sandbank
sand dune
sandstorm
sapwood
savannah
preferred to savanna
sawdust, sawlogs, sawmill
sawntimber, sawnwood
sawpit, sawtimber
sceptical
schoolbooks
schoolchildren
school-leaver, school-leaving
schoolteacher
scoop net
screwworm, New World screwworm
sea bed, sea floor, sea freight, sea level

sea-moss
sea wall

seawater
Second World War
Secretariat
upper case when referring to FAO
Secretary-General
sectoral not sectorial
seed bank, seed bed
seed-borne, seed-coat
seed lot
self-
compounds all hyphenated
serosurveillance
setback
(n.), set back (v.)
sewing machine
sharecropper, sharecropping
sheep meat, sheep pox
sheepskin
shelf-life
shelterbelt
ships
names of ships italicized, but not the designations SS, HMS, etc.
shortfall
shorthorn
short-lived
short term
(n.), short-term (adj.)
short wave (n.), short-wave (adj.)
shutdown (n.), shut-down (adj.), shut down (v.)
side-effect
sideline
silage, ensilage
silage is the product of the process of ensilage
silkworm
silvi-
compounds closed up unless followed by a vowel
sirocco, pl. siroccos
sizeable

siphon not syphon
skilful not skillful
skimmed milk, skim milk (be consistent)
-skin compounds closed up, e.g. goatskin
slaughterhouse
slowdown
(n.), slow down (v.)
smallholder, smallholding
small scale
(n.), small-scale (adj.)
smoulder not smolder
socio- compounds usually closed up, but note socio-economic
sociometric, sociometry
soft cover
soil-borne

soja bean – use soybean
south, southeast, southeastern, southern
capitalized when part of a proper name or political grouping, e.g. South America, South Temperate Zone, Southeast Asia, Southern Hemisphere; lower case for direction or geographical grouping, e.g. southern Europe
southward (adj.), southwards (adv.)
southwest, southwestern see south
soybean
not soyabean or soja bean
speciality not specialty
spectre not specter
spelled preferred to spelt
spillover (n.), spill over (v.)
spreadsheet
St
not St. (contraction for Saint)
staff a collective noun, which takes plural verb; for individuals, use staff members
stall-feed, stall-feeding
stalk borer
standby
(n.), stand by (v.)
starting-point
state
lower case when referring generally to nations or divisions of a nation; upper case when a specific state is named, e.g. State of New York; but state-owned enterprise, head of state
statewide
stationary
not moving
stationery paper, pens, etc.
status quo not italicized
stem borer, stem rot
stockbreeder
stock owners
stockpile
stone-fruit
stopgap
storehouse, storeroom
storey,
pl. storeys preferred spelling for floor(s) of a building
stratum, pl. strata
street food vendor
sub-
compounds closed up unless followed by b, e.g. sub-basin; note sub-Saharan
subject matter
sugar beet
(n.), sugar-beet (adj.)
sugar cane (n.), sugar-cane (adj.)
sugar-gum
sugar refinery
sulphur
not sulfur
sun-dried (adj.), sun dry (v.)
sunflower seed (n.), sunflower-seed (adj.)
supersede never supercede
supervise
surmise
surprise
symposium
, pl. symposia
synthesis
, pl. syntheses
syphon use siphon
system-wide

T

T&V (abbrev.) training and visit
takeoff (n.), take off (v.)
takeover (n.), take over (v.)
tap-root, tap-water
tape recorder
(n.); tape-record (v.)
target (v.), targeted (past part.)
task force
teamwork
televise
ten
spell out all numbers up to ten in text, unless used with a measure, e.g. 5 percent
testcross (n., v.)
test run
test-tube
textbook
theatre
thiamine
not thiamin
Third World – use developing countries
tick-borne
timberland, timberline
time frame, time lag, time limit
time-saving
time scale, time series
timetable
tiro
not tyro
titration, titre
tobacco
, pl. tobaccos
tonne – tonne refers to metric tonne; avoid ton unless referring to shipping vessel tons
top-down (adj.)
top-dressing (n.), top-dress (v.)
top-graft
topsoil
totalled, totalling
towards
tradable
trade-off
trafficking, trafficker
trans-
compounds closed up
transferring
transhumance
transnational
the correct word for a corporation that operates across international boundaries is transnational, not multinational, which implies ownership by more than one nationality
transship, transshipment
travelled, traveller
trawl-line
trawlnet
treatise
tree fruit, tree line
trifurcate
tri-junction
troubleshoot, troubleshooter
trypanoprophylactic,
not trypano-preventive
trypanosomiasis
trypanotolerance, trypanotolerant
tsetse fly
tubewell
turnaround
turnover
tyre
(n.) not tire

U

ultrasonic, ultraviolet
UN system, the
under-
compounds generally closed up unless followed by r, e.g. under-represented
underdeveloped countries – use developing countries
under way
update, up-to-date,
but bring up to date
upgrade, upland
up-river
uproot, uprooted
upward
(adj.), upwards (adv.)
usable not useable
USA – abbreviation for United States, not US, except for United States dollars, e.g. US$100 000. Do not use abbreviation in text

V

valorize
valorous, valour
not valor
value added (n.), value-added (adj.)
vaporific, vaporiform, vaporimeter
vaporize
vaporous, vapour
not vapor
vapour-burner
Vatican
see Holy See
vector-borne
vein banding, vein clearing
veldt
versus
(abbrev. vs) not italicized
veterinarian
vice versa
not italicized
vicuña
video camera
videocassette
video-display
video recorder
videotape
Viet Nam
but Vietnamese
view-finder
viewpoint
vigorous, vigour

vis-à-vis
italicized

W

wadi not italicized
wage-earner
-ward
(adj.), -wards (adv.), e.g. an upward movement, moving upwards
Washington, DC
wastewater
waterbird
, waterbody
water-borne
water buffalo
watercourse, waterfall
water-flea
waterfowl
water-hole
water level
waterline
watermark
watermelon
water-power
waterproof
water-soluble
water supply
water table
watertight
water-tower
waterway
water-weed
wavelength
webworm
Web site

weed-killer
weekday, weekend
well-being
well-water
west, western
capitalized when part of a proper name or political grouping, e.g. the West, West Africa, Western Europe (political), Western Hemisphere, Western world; lower case for direction or geographical grouping, e.g. western Africa, western Europe (geographical)
wetlands
while
not whilst
whiteboard, whitefly
wholemeal
-wide
compounds: close up worldwide, countrywide, nationwide; hyphenate economy-wide, island-wide, organization-wide, system-wide
wide-ranging, wide-reaching
wide-scale
(adj.), but on a wide scale
widespread
wildland, wildlife
wilful
not willful
windbreak (n.)
wind-row
-wise
compounds – avoid except in words such as clockwise
withhold
-wood
compounds closed up, e.g. brushwood, budwood, cordwood, fuelwood, hardwood
wood ash
woodcutter, woodfuel, woodlot
wood stove
woodwork
woollen
not woolen
workday, workbench, workforce, workload
workman – avoid; use worker
workplace
work plan
workroom, worksheet, workshop
work site
workstation, worktable

World War II – avoid; use Second World War
worldwide
World Wide Web

Y

yearbook
year-end
(adj.), year-long (adj.), year-round (adj.)
yoghurt

Z

zeros not zeroes


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