The classification of organisms begins with the kingdom. There are five kingdoms of living organisms:
  1. Animalia (animals)
  2. Plantae (plants)
  3. Protista (single-celled organisms)
  4. Monera or Procaryotae (bacteria and blue-green algae)
  5. Fungi (a person who is fun)
Of course, I am just kidding, fungi is the plural of fungus, and refers to mushrooms and mushroom-like things.

There are also Viruses, which are considered alive by some and not by others, since they have many of the criteria for life, but cannot reproduce by themselves. Most scientists consider viruses semi-alive.

Below the kingdom in the classification system is the phylum. Although there is also a subkingdom / domain classification between 'kingdom' and 'phylum', it is not usually used in biological identification.

But 'kingdom' is a bit of a problematic classification scheme. There are three domains - Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya. The Eucaria are eukaryotes, meaning they have a nucleus, and the other two domains are prokaryotes, having no nucleus. Archaea and Bacteria comprise the kingdom Monera, so that neither kingdom nor domain can be above the other in the classification system.

Basically, the classification of life is more complex than previously thought (when these terms came into usage). Lord Brawl tells me that Monera has been split up into two kingdoms. I haven't heard, but if it's true, I'll update this, of course. In any case, it's bound to happen sometime. Archaea and Bacteria are more different than plants and animals.

In the Three Domain taxonomy of life, Kingdom is the second of the eight ranks:
  1. Domain
  2. Kingdom
  3. Phylum
  4. Class
  5. Order
  6. Family
  7. Genus
  8. Species
For Homo Sapiens (us), the kingdom is Animalia:

Aristotle (384-322BCE) first sorted animals as having blood (vertebrates) or not having blood (cephalopods). In the fourth century St. Augustine decided to sort animals as useful, harmful, or superfluous to humans and in the mid-1700s Carolus Linnaeus created the modern hierarchical classification of life.

From Aristotle's time to the mid-1900s there were only two recognized kingdoms (Plantae and Animalia) but once we started using microscopes we discovered many species that didn't easily fit into either kingdom. In the 1800s Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) proposed a third kingdom: Protista and then in 1969 Robert H. Whittaker (1920-1980) proposed a five kingdom classification (shown above) that's now accepted by most biologists.

The fungi kingdom was created because fungi do not photosynthesize unlike plants and obviously aren't animals. Prokaryotae (Monera) is primarily bacteria because they don't have distinct nuclei and other membranous organelles. Some biologists also separate Prokaryotae into two different kingdoms (Archea and Eubacteria) but generally only the five are used.

Domain: Kingdom: Phylum: Class: Order: Family: Genus: Species

You enter the kingdom
When the throne
Is indistinguishable
From a commoner's comfortable armchair
Emanation of the his force of grasp
Extend to the river beyond the canyon
Where tranquil stream and furious billow converge
Into a point of ordered confusion
To be settled by the maid
Who stand firmly despite the facade of frailty
With her eyes blindfolded

King"dom (?), n. [AS. cyningdm. See 2d King, and -dom.]


The rank, quality, state, or attributes of a king; royal authority; sovereign power; rule; dominion; monarchy.

Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. Ps. cxiv. 13.

When Jehoram was risen up to the kingdom of his father, he strengthened himself. 2 Chron. xxi. 4.


The territory or country subject to a king or queen; the dominion of a monarch; the sphere in which one is king or has control.

Unto the kingdom of perpetual night. Shak.

You're welcome, Most learned reverend sir, into our kingdom. Shak.


An extensive scientific division distinguished by leading or ruling characteristics; a principal division; a department; as, the mineral kingdom.

"The animal and vegetable kingdoms."


Animal kingdom. See under Animal. -- Kingdom of God. (a) The universe. (b) That spiritual realm of which God is the acknowledged sovereign. (c) The authority or dominion of God. -- Mineral kingdom. See under Mineral. -- United Kingdom. See under United. -- Vegetable kingdom. See under Vegetable.

Syn. -- Realm; empire; dominion; monarchy; sovereignty; domain.


© Webster 1913.

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