Etymology and DefinitionFurther information: Man (word) and List of alternative names for the human species
With the discovery and study of fossil ancestors of modern humans the meaning of the word "human" changed, as the previously clear boundary between human and ape blurred, now encompassing multiple species. Today in scientific usage "human" may refer to any member of the genus Homo. Furthermore within Homo sapiens, there is a distinction between anatomically modern Homo sapiens and Archaic Homo sapiens, the earliest fossil members of the species. Sometimes groups such as the Neanderthals are classified as a subspecies of Homo sapiens - Homo sapiens neanderthalensis. However, in everyday usage, and in this article, the word "human" generally refers to the only extant species of the genus - anatomically and behaviorally modern Homo sapiens. The open question about possible extinct subspecies will be briefly covered. Fossil humans are covered in the article "Homo", and in the articles about individual species of the genus.
The English adjective human is a Middle English loanword from Old French humain, ultimately from Latin hūmānus, the adjective form of homō "man". The word's use as a noun (with a plural: humans) dates to the 16th century. The native English term man can refer to the species generally (a synonym for mankind), and could formerly refer to specific individuals of either sex. The latter use is now obsolete. Generic uses of the term "man" are declining, in favor of reserving it for referring specifically to adult males. The word is from Proto-Germanic *mannaz, from a Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root *man-.
The species binomial Homo sapiens was coined by Carl Linnaeus in his 18th century work Systema Naturae, and he himself is the lectotype specimen. The generic name Homo is a learned 18th century derivation from Latin homō "man", ultimately "earthly being" (Old Latin hemō, a cognate to Old English guma "man", from PIE *dʰǵʰemon-, meaning 'earth' or 'ground'). The species-name sapiens means "wise" or "sapient".
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