Different types of cell death are often defined by morphological criteria, without a clear reference to precise biochemical mechanisms. The Nomenclature Committee on Cell Death (NCCD) proposes unified criteria for the definition of cell death and of its different morphologies, while formulating several caveats against the misuse of words and concepts that slow down progress in the area of cell death research. Authors, reviewers and editors of scientific periodicals are invited to abandon expressions like 'percentage apoptosis' and to replace them with more accurate descriptions of the biochemical and cellular parameters that are actually measured. Moreover, at the present stage, it should be accepted that caspase-independent mechanisms can cooperate with (or substitute for) caspases in the execution of lethal signaling pathways and that 'autophagic cell death' is a type of cell death occurring together with (but not necessarily by) autophagic vacuolization. This study details the 2009 recommendations of the NCCD on the use of cell death-related terminology including 'entosis', 'mitotic catastrophe', 'necrosis', 'necroptosis' and 'pyroptosis'.