Comparing English and scientific names can be confusing in gull species. The agreed classification for gulls at this point in time is to have four larger genera, and a set of smaller ones. The gulls that have been classified by the IOC on their World Bird List as non-single or non-dual genus species have been grouped into Chroicocephalus, Leucophaeus, Ichthyaetus and Larus.
Here is a list of generic and specific scientific names with their translations.
Chroicocephalus = coloured head; from Greek chroa = colour, and cephalus = head.
- Slender-billed Gull – Chroicocephalus genei = Gené’s Gull – patronym for Italian naturalist Giuseppe Gené (1800–1847).
- Bonaparte’s Gull – Chroicocephalus philadelphia = Philadelphia Gull – for Philadelphia, PA, USA.
- Red-billed Gull – Chroicocephalus scopulinus = Cliff Gull – from Latin scopulus = cliff.
- Silver Gull – Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae = Western-Australian Gull – name given to Western Australia by early Dutch explorers.
- Black-billed Gull – Chroicocephalus bulleri = Buller’s Gull – patronym for New Zealand ornithologist Walter Lawry Buller (1838–1906).
- Andean Gull – Chroicocephalus serranus = Mountain Gull – from Portuguese serra = mountain (range).
- Brown-headed Gull – Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus = from Latin brunneus = brown, and Greek kephalos = head.
- Brown-hooded Gull – Chroicocephalus maculipennis = Spotted-winged Gull – from Latin macula = spot and penna = wing.
- Black-headed Gull – Chroicocephalus ridibundus = Laughing Gull – from Latin ridere = to laugh.
- Grey-headed Gull – Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus = from supposedly fake Latin cirrhus following Greek kirrhos = grey, and Greek kephalos = head.
- Hartlaub’s Gull – Chroicocephalus hartlaubii = patronym for German ornithologist Karl Johann Gustav Hartlaub (1814–1900).
- Saunders’s Gull – Chroicocephalus saundersi = patronym for British ornithologist Howard Saunders (1835–1907), an authority on gulls.
Leucophaeus = brown and white – from Greek leucos = white and phaios = dusky.
- Dolphin Gull – Leucophaeus scoresbii = Scorebi’s Gull – patronym for English Arctic scientist William Scoresby (1789–1857).
- Lava Gull – Leucophaeus fuliginosus = Sooty Gull – from Latin fuligo = sooty.
- Laughing Gull – Leucophaeus atricilla = Black-tailed Gull – from Latin ater = black and cilla = tail.
- Franklin’s Gull – Leucophaeus pipixcan = pipixcan seems to be an Aztec word of unknown meaning.
- Grey Gull – Leucophaeus modestus = Plain Gull – from Latin modestus = plain, modest.
Ichthyaetus = after syn. Larus ichthyaetus, Pallas’s Gull – from Greek ichthys fish and aetos eagle.
- Relict Gull – Ichthyaetus relictus = from Latin relictus = relict.
- Audouin’s Gull – Ichthyaetus audouinii = patronym for French naturalist Jean Victoire Audouin (1797–1841).
- Mediterranean Gull – Ichthyaetus melanocephalus = Black-headed Gull – from Greek melas = black and kephalos = head.
- Pallas’s Gull – Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus = Fish-eagle Gull – from Greek ichthys = fish and aetos = eagle.
- White-eyed Gull – Ichthyaetus leucophthalmus = from Greek leukos = white and ophthalmos = eye.
- Sooty Gull – Ichthyaetus hemprichii = Hemprich’s Gull – patronym for German naturalist Friedrich Wilhelm Hemprich (1796–1825).
Larus = from Greek laros = gull or other seabird.
- Pacific Gull – Larus pacificus = for Pacific Ocean.
- Belcher’s Gull – Larus belcheri = patronym for British naval explorer Edward Belcher (1799–1877).
- Olrog’s Gull – Larus atlanticus = for Atlantic Ocean.
- Black-tailed Gull – Larus crassirostris = Thick-billed Gull – from Latin crassus = thick or heavy, and rostrum = bill.
- Heermann’s Gull – Larus heermanni = patronym for US field naturalist Adolphus Lewis Heermann (1827–1865).
- Mew Gull – Larus canus = Grey Gull – from Latin canus = grey.
- Ring-billed Gull – Larus delawarensis = for Delaware River, USA.
- California Gull – Larus californicus = for California, USA.
- Great Black-backed Gull – Larus marinus = Sea Gull – from Latin mare = sea.
- Kelp Gull – Larus dominicanus = Dominican Gull – for black and white habits or robes of the Dominican Order.
- Glaucous-winged Gull – Larus glaucescens = Blue-grey Gull – from Latin glaucescens = somewhat glaucous, bluish-grey.
- Western Gull – Larus occidentalis = from Latin occidens = west.
- Yellow-footed Gull – Larus livens = Bluish Gull – from Latin livens = bluish.
- Glaucous Gull – Larus hyperboreus = Northern Gull – from Latin hyperboreus after Greek hyperborea = northern.
- Iceland Gull – Larus glaucoides = Glaucus-like Gull – from Larus glaucus (syn. Larus hyperboreus = Glaucous Gull) and Greek oides = resembling.
- Thayer’s Gull – Larus thayeri = patronym for US ornithologist John Eliot Thayer (1862–1933).
- European Herring Gull – Larus argentatus = Silver Gull – from Latin argentatus = ornamented with silver.
- American Herring Gull – Larus smithsonianus = patronym for British mineralogist and chemist James Smithson (1765–1829).
- Vega Gull – Larus vegae = named for exploration vessel Vega used by Finnish Artcic explorer Nils Adolf Erik Nordenskjøld (1832–1901).
- Caspian Gull – Larus cachinnans = Laughing Gull – from Latin cachinnare = laughing loudly.
- Yellow-legged Gull – Larus michahellis = misspelling of michahelles, patronym for German zoologist Karl Michahelles (1807–1834)
- Armenian Gull – Larus armenicus = for Armenia.
- Slaty-backed Gull – Larus schistisagus = from Latin schistus = slate, and sagus = cloak.
- Lesser Black-backed Gull = Larus fuscus = Dark Gull – from Latin fuscus = dark, swarthy.