As we cannot use physician for a cultivator of physics, I have called him a physicist. We need very much a name to describe a cultivator of science in general. I should incline to call him a Scientist. Thus we might say, that as an Artist is a Musician, Painter, or Poet, a Scientist is a Mathematician, Physicist, or Naturalist. [William Whewell, "The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences," London, 1840]
It was used earlier in the sense of "one versed in the medical sciences" (1716) but this was rare and by 19c. was obsolete.
"person versed in or devoted to science," 1834, a hybrid coined from Latin scientia (see science) by the Rev. William Whewell, English polymath, by analogy with artist, in the same paragraph in which he coined physicist (q.v.). There is an isolated use of sciencist from 1778, and scientician was used in 1885. Scientaster "petty or inferior scientist" is by 1899 (see -aster).
named for 17c. Irish-born chemist and physicist Robert Boyle, who published it in 1662.