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Questions tagged [etymology]

This tag is for questions about the origin and history of word form and meaning. The [terminology] tag should be used when asking strictly about the meaning or usage of a term. The [nomenclature] tag should be used when simply asking about the naming of species and not the origin of those names.

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What is the thinking behind the naming of arachidonic acid?

Arachidonic acid, the double bonded fatty acid, is occasionally misrepresented as having to do with spiders (arachnids). The Wikipedia entry explains that it's instead elated to "arachis" = ...
SeanJ's user avatar
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Why and who: named some fish "bashers" (African electrofish taxon "stonebasher")

Folklore question for itinerant elephantfish/electrofish experts happening to see this:Is any stonebasher fish named for a behavior related to bashing... something or some part of its anatomy against ...
Ayer AGG'TDd'E-A's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
179 views

How do we determine what we call "flexion" and what we call "extension"?

Question: How did we determine which motion to call "flexion" and which to call "extension" with regard to the wrist and the neck? Background: Just to set the stage, I'm not asking ...
Drew V Mouseton's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
156 views

For which wing characteristic are Plecoptera (stoneflies) named for?

I'm coming across variable etymological meanings for the order Plecoptera (stoneflies). Some sources indicate the meaning is "wicker/braided-winged", while others suggest "folded/...
theforestecologist's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
67 views

What does "Pandercetes" (genus of spiders) mean?

"Pandercetes" is a taxonomic genus, and refers to certain Huntsman spiders (found in Australia/Asia). It was named by Koch, a German entomologist, in 1875. What does the name itself mean or ...
rolfk's user avatar
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1 vote
4 answers
118 views

How did so many types of larvae become known as worms?

How did it come to be that so many types of creatures typically known as worms are actually insect larvae? Silkworms are not actually worms at all, but larvae of a type of moth. Another example being ...
Neil Meyer's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
54 views

What could the etymology of Phallodriline be?

I'm reading about a series of gutless worms described in several papers as phallodrilines. A search in the World Register of Marine Species shows that there is a subfamily called "Phallodrilinae", but ...
Lumimoto's user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
373 views

True anatomical/physiological explanation for "metaphysis" etymology

The anatomy textbook1 I use for my students states that the prefix meta- means "between:" The metaphyses (me-TAF-i-sez; meta = between; singular is metaphysis) are the regions between the diaphysis ...
theforestecologist's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
103 views

Why are plasmids called plasmids?

I knew from this website (https://www.etymonline.com/word/plasmid) that the word "plasmid" is a combination of "plasma" + "id" , where "id" means: belonging to or connected to. But I don't understand ...
Manar's user avatar
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2 answers
97 views

Is there a nomenclature for human physiology?

Back when I studied botany in high school, the teacher taught us the nomenclature for botanical terms. I think there should be something similar for human physiology. Understanding how the name was ...
yasouser's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
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What is the etymology for Pinus halepensis?

I have a problem of figuring out the etymology of Pinus halepnesis. An etymonline search with halepensis brought no result. It is unclear to me from the English wikipedia article and from the ...
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2 answers
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Why are hydathodes called hydathodes and not hydrothodes? [closed]

I can't seem to find any etymological root for the hyda- in hydathode. I expected the water-relater structure to be called a hydrothode, but it just isn't!
Don's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
697 views

What is the reason behind the subphylum name "Urochordata" for tunicates?

There are two major invertebrate subphyla of the chordates (phylum Chordata): Cephalochordata (the lancelets) Urochordata, aka Tunicata (the tunicates) My understanding is that the cephalochordates ...
theforestecologist's user avatar
-2 votes
2 answers
1k views

Why is photosynthesis described as a "physico-chemical" process? [closed]

In my textbook it is given that photosynthesis is a physico-chemical process. How can it be a physical process?
Gayathri's user avatar
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0 answers
150 views

Etymology of eccentric/concentric contractions

I was wondering if anyone knew why the terms eccentric and concentric were chosen to refer to lengthening and shortening muscle contractions? The basic etymology of the words are to do with ...
strava's user avatar
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0 answers
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Why plant tissues end in -enchyma?

Many plant tissue types end in the affix -enchyma. Etymology: enkhyma "infusion," from en- "in" + khein "to pour" Examples are parenchyma, collenchyma, and sclerenchyma....
theforestecologist's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
155 views

What is the etymology of "moura" in Mourasuchus?

Mourasuchus is a unique species of prehistoric crocodile so far discovered. It is a filter-feeder and has shared its habitat with Gryposuchus and the more fearsome Purussaurus in the Miocene Era -- ...
Chipboy123's user avatar
4 votes
0 answers
64 views

What does "molecular" mean in the context of anatomy, for example the molecular layer of cerebral cortex

The first apical layer of the cerebral cortex is also called as the molecular layer, I could not find the exact reason of the naming. What I found: Molecular alongside its primary meaning in ...
atevm's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
179 views

Are there any anatomy books focusing on etymology?

I noticed that I can remember names for a very long time if I now their etymological background, the reason is easy I love etymology, especially when it is connected to mythology. However when I learn ...
atevm's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
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Why are the posterior and anterior inferior temporal cortex called area TEO and area TE respectively?

I don't understand why you would call them that. How did these names originate/where did these names come from?
liyuan's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
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Exact meaning of the term "clutch"

When reading a Wikipedia article to do with chickens, I have come across the term "clutch", but I was not able to entirely figure out what this word means. I was wondering whether the term clutch can ...
Joselin Jocklingson's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
462 views

What is the meaning of pygo and pagus in the word pygopagus? [closed]

I know definition of the disease pygopagus but I want to know the meaning of separate parts of it, in fact what's the meaning of pygo- and -pagus in terminology?
minasi's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
144 views

Etymology of vimentin [closed]

What is the etymology of the intermediate filament , Vimentin?
JM97's user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why is the prefrontal cortex called such?

Pre means before. Frontal means front. What does cortex means? Brain? Is it the front most part of the brain? Is it located at the most frontal part of the brain and that's why it's called ...
user4951's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
2k views

Understanding the concept of a "Place Field" and the difference between place cells and grid cells

I have 3 questions that are interrelated: After reading the proper literature on the subject, my understanding of the place field is that it's a place in space to which an animal's place cell reacts ...
Jen's user avatar
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15 votes
2 answers
9k views

Are 'homeothermic' and 'endothermic' synonymous?

I got this question from the comments below this answer. So, do homeothermic and poikilothermic have the same meaning as endothermic and ectothermic, respectively? A user also suggested that the ...
Mesentery's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
103 views

Meaning of "U" in "Viral Protein U"

What does U mean in Viral protein U? Viral protein U (Vpu) is a unique gene product of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1 (HIV-1) with two well-described functions... So does U in this case ...
JM97's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
154 views

What does the word "refractory" in "refractory period" refer to? [closed]

What does the word "refractory" in "refractory period" refer to? I know what it means "refractory period" (both, absolute and relative) in the action potential graph, but I don't understand what the ...
Alleged Biologist's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
126 views

What is the literal meaning of the scientific name for the cactus wren?

What does the scientific name Campylorhynchus brunneicapillum mean? I simply want to find a way to decipher the meaning of scientific names. In the past I had to translate the names syllable by ...
W. Sykora's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
2k views

What is the difference between disruptive, divergent and diversifying selection?

In our lab meeting we were chatting about divergent selection. I was confused at some point because I wasn't sure what was the meaning of this work in comparison to diversifying/disruptive and other ...
M. Beausoleil's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
145 views

What does the species name 'fistula' mean?

Cassia fistula is tree with yellow flowers. As a medical student what amazes me is that the word fistula implies other meanings. A fistula, at least in medical science refers to a tract with two ...
Polisetty's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
162 views

When is an anatomic entity named "laterale" vs. "lateralis"?

I'm trying to learn the latin names of anatomical entities and I have a hard time remembering whether it's "Os cuneiforme laterale" or "Os cuneiforme lateralis". In that case it's "laterale". But in ...
Christian's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
9k views

Coracoid vs. Coronoid - Etymology/Naming Choice?

The word coracoid (e.g., coracoid process of scapula) literally means "resembling a crow/raven" or "of the form of a crow/raven." In this case, I assume, resembling the hooked characteristic of a ...
theforestecologist's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
101 views

Etymology of PAX proteins

What is the reasoning behind naming proteins first found in Drosophila as paired box? All I could find on internet is that it was first found in Drosophila as a protein with paired domain, but I ...
JM97's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
1k views

Gorgonopsid--What's In a Name?

The Gorgon--a terrifying, monstrous female with hairs made of live snakes and a stare so horrifying that it would literally turn you to stone. The Gorgonopsid--a predatory protomammal that hunted ...
JohnWDailey's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
771 views

What is the origin of the name "λ phage"?

The lambda bacteriophage which infects E. coli was first discovered by Esther Lederberg in 1950. However, in the earliest paper on the lambda phage that I could find, I was unable to find the ...
March Ho's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
56 views

Anemiaceae etymology

What is the etymology of the name Anemiaceae for a family of ferns? I assume that it's from the name Anemia for one of its genera, but that is equally mysterious. Obviously it has no blood, but what ...
Pamela Bronson's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
2k views

Etymology of the term monilophyte

I would like to know the origin of the term Monilophyta. I know it's from Kenrick and Crane, but where did they get monilo-? It's not in my enormous Liddell and Scott Greek dictionary, nor is there ...
Pamela Bronson's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
5k views

Why are plant buds called 'eyes'?

I was reading the etymology of the Latinate English verb 'inoculate' which contains the following part that generated the question entitled above: [...] inoculare "graft in, implant a bud or eye of ...
user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
6k views

What do the names of Immunoglobulin subtypes mean?

What is the exact meaning and full form of IgM, IgG, IgA, etc? What is the rationale behind the names of the isotypes, if there is one? For example, what does "M" mean in IgM?
Ashwin.N's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
573 views

What is the difference between Ostracodermi and Placodermi

I looked the word origin and found Placodermi is PLATE SKINNED while Ostracodermi is Shell Skinned. Can someone please explain the difference between being Plate skinned and Shell skinned?
Safwan's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
476 views

Why are Oxyuranus snake species named Taipan?

It is interesting, why are Oxyuranus species called Taipan. The snakes are Australian but taipan looks like of Chinese origin word (it means big shot - important person).
rook's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
1k views

Does the palate truly house the sense of taste?

Source: Your “palate” is the roof of your mouth, and by extension, your sense of taste. I was reading Etymonline's entry for palatable {adj.}, which cites and derives from palate {noun}: ... ...
user avatar
13 votes
5 answers
22k views

Why is the opposite of plantar flexion called "dorsiflexion"?

Why is the action of flexing the foot so that the toes move anteriorly/superiorly (i.e. in the direction opposite that which they move during plantar flexion) described as "dorsiflexion?" In the same ...
senshin's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
2k views

What worms devour the body?

I was reading this site which broached comedones, an esoteric word to me; so I thought to look up its etymology which I find exceptionally singular and peculiar (I would have never guessed that the ...
user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
30k views

Origin of term ‘confluency’ in cell culture

Since as long as I have been doing cell culture, the word confluency has been used to describe the percentage growth of cells or area covered by them. However, no dictionary that I have found uses ...
rhill45's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
113 views

Plural of "dibamus"

Migrated from English site. Dibamus is a genus of legless lizards in the family Dibamidae, of the infraorder Dibamia. Genera are usually given in singular, so what is the correct plural of Dibamus? ...
Adám's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
629 views

What's the meaning of 'plasma' in 'plasma membrane'?

I wonder why is it called plasma membrane - what's the biological meaning of the word 'plasma'?
blz's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
2k views

What does the root "phyllum" mean used botanical binomial nomenclature

I often encounter the root "phyllum" in binomial names in botany, but I've had trouble finding an actual definition for this root in any Latin dictionary outside of its taxonomic meaning. From context ...
BRZA's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
533 views

What is the context in which a species gets the name "elegans"

Quite a lot of Latin binomials from different genera contain the same species name. For example, there are a number that reflect the physical properties of the species (Tables have the latin name, a ...
Lucas's user avatar
  • 256