There is an increasing shift in technology towards biometric solutions, but one of the biggest barriers to widespread use is the acceptance by the users. In this paper we investigate the understanding, awareness and acceptance of biometrics by the general public. The primary research method was a survey, which had 282 respondents, designed to gauge public opinion around biometrics. Additionally, qualitative data was captured in the form of the participants’ definition of the term biometrics. We applied thematic analysis as well as an automated Word Vector analysis to this data to provide a deeper insight into the perceptions and understanding of the term. Our results demonstrate that while there is generally a reasonable level of understanding of what biometrics are, this is typically limited to the techniques that are most familiar to participants (e.g., fingerprints or facial recognition). Most notably individuals’ awareness overlooks emerging areas such as behavioural biometrics (e.g., gait). This was also apparent when we compared participants’ views to definitions provided by official, published sources (e.g., ISO, NIST, OED, DHS). Overall, this article provides unique insight into the perceptions and understanding of biometrics as well as areas where users may lack knowledge on biometric applications.