Hearing is one of the most crucial means of survival in the animal world, and speech is one of the most distinctive characteristics of human development and culture. Accordingly, the science of acoustics spreads across many facets of human society—music, medicine, architecture, industrial production, warfare and more. Art, craft, science and technology have provoked one another to advance the whole, as in many other fields of knowledge. Robert Bruce Lindsay‘s ‘Wheel of Acoustics’ is a well accepted overview of the various fields in acoustics.
The word “acoustic” is derived from the Greek word ἀκουστικός (akoustikos), meaning “of or for hearing, ready to hear” and that from ἀκουστός (akoustos), “heard, audible”, which in turn derives from the verb ἀκούω (akouo), “I hear”.
The Latin synonym is “sonic”, after which the term sonics used to be a synonym for acoustics and later a branch of acoustics. Frequencies above and below the audible range are called “ultrasonic” and “infrasonic“, respectively.