- a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms and recognized by the nomenclature codes. The well-known ranks in descending order are: life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species, with order fitting in between class and family. An immediately higher rank, superorder, is sometimes added directly above order, with suborder directly beneath order.
- a taxonomic unit (a taxon; plural taxa) in the rank of order (e.g. Strigiformes, Rosales). In that case the plural is orders (Latin ordines).
This article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2008)
What does and does not belong to each order is determined by a taxonomist, as is whether a particular order should be recognized at all. Often there is no exact agreement, with different taxonomists each taking a different position. There are no hard rules that a taxonomist needs to follow in describing or recognizing an order. Some taxa are accepted almost universally, while others are recognized only rarely.
The name of an order is usually written with a capital letter. For some groups of organisms, their orders may follow consistent naming schemes. Orders of plants, fungi, and algae use the suffix -ales (e.g. Dictyotales). Orders of birds and fishes use the Latin suffix -(i)formes meaning 'having the form of' (e.g. Passeriformes), but orders of mammals and invertebrates are not so consistent (e.g. Artiodactyla, Actiniaria, Primates).