As with other older geologic periods, the geological strata that define the start and end are well identified but the exact dates of the start and end of the epoch are slightly uncertain. The boundaries defining the Pliocene are not set at an easily identified worldwide event but rather at regional boundaries between the warmer Miocene and the relatively cooler Pliocene. The upper boundary was set at the start of the Pleistocene glaciations.
Charles Lyell (later Sir Charles) gave the Pliocene its name in Principles of Geology (volume 2, 1833). The word pliocene comes from the Greek words πλεῖον (pleion, "more") and καινός (kainos, "new" or "recent") and means roughly "continuation of the recent", referring to the essentially modern marine mollusc fauna.
H.W. Fowler called the term Pliocene (like other geological jargon such as pleistocene and miocene) a "regrettable barbarism" and an indication that even "a good classical scholar" such as Lyell should have requested a philologist's help when coining words.
To summarize the usage of these "regrettable barbarisms" in the labelling of the Cenozoic ("recent life") era (from youngest to oldest):