In French we have a word, vulgarisation, which is the act of synthesizing complex knowledge into a form that a broad audience can understand. I know that the final product is called popular science in English, but I'm not sure how you call the process of taking "hard science" and making it popular science, and it seems that vulgarization isn't often used in a positive light.

  • I don't think there is a single word for this in English. 'Dumbing down' is often heard, but this has negative connotations. 'Making science more accessible' is perhaps the most succinct way of putting it. Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 8:07
  • In English, we also have the word vulgarization, which has as one of its meanings: n. the act of making something attractive to the general public. The word suffers, however, from its connection to the word vulgar, which has a primary meaning of crudely indecent.
    – JLG
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 15:07

3 Answers 3


The term you are after is popularization, which Oxforddictionaries.com defines thus:

Make (something technical, scientific, or academic) accessible or interesting to the general public by presenting it in a readily understandable form:

  • The problem I have with this word is that its other meaning (cause (something) to become generally liked) is way more...popular. The two meanings are sort of ambiguous without context (you couldn't use it in a headline, for instance) and the one I'm trying to convey can easily be shadowed.
    – zneak
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 8:19
  • 1
    @zneak You couldn't use it in a headline? That means PLOS ONE has done the impossible, and so did someone at the Brussels University... Context is everything, but based on the links I gave, it seems the expression is readily used and understood in the correct way?
    – oerkelens
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 8:25
  • @zneak I'd dispute your claim. In 'popularising the wazoo hairstyle', the 'make popular' sense is obviously going to be preferentially picked up on, but with 'popularising science', the frightening word science will skew 'popularising' towards the 'make accessible / less scary' sense. Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 16:33

Not a single word, but certainly a single concept popularization of science, scientists popularizing science.
Examples of its usage:
Scientists Popularizing Science: Characteristics and Impact of TED Talk Presenters
Is Popularization of Science Possible?


I think diffusion of scientific knowledge may convey the idea of contributing to the public understanding of science.

For Goode, there was no distinction between pure and applied science; the increase of knowledge and the application of its benefits were inseparable. He was also a great believer in the diffusion of scientific knowledge to the general public, for which the museum was a primary vehicle.

Source: Spencer Baird and Ichthyology at the Smithsonian

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