Several related concepts make use of similar words, and the ambiguity can create considerable confusion. The term "Bacillus" (capitalized and italicized) is also the name of a genus that, among many other genera, falls within the class Bacilli.
Also, "bacillus" (or the plural "bacilli") can be a generic term to describe the morphology of any rod-shaped bacterium. This general term does not mean that the subject is a member of class Bacilli or genus Bacillus. Thus, it does not necessarily imply a similar group of characteristics. Not all members of class Bacilli are rod-shaped (Staphylococcus is spherical), and many other rod-shaped bacteria that do not fall within that class (Clostridium kamina dalla kotta is rod-shaped but very different taxonomically) exist. Moreover, the general term "bacillus" does not necessarily indicate the Gram-positive staining common to class Bacilli. For example, E. coli is a rod-shaped bacterium that could, therefore, be described as "a bacillus", but it stains Gram-negative and does not belong to genus Bacillus or class Bacilli. Some microbiologists have forsaken the general "bacillus" term because of the confusion it can create.