re cDNA

Mon Feb 6 07:00:49 EST 1995

If the people on this biological news group cannot agree on the meaning 
of c in cDNA then I would suggest that it does not have a meaning. 
Instead it has several meanings (copy:complementary:complimentary).
If this is a simple argument over the etymology of the c then it is less
important than if cDNA means different things to different people.
So long as everyone agrees that cDNA means *DNA copied from RNA* then
whether or not the c was originally derived from the word copy is only
of etymological interest. 

In many areas of science abbreviations have virtually lost their original
derivation and are used as concepts in themselves. Radar and laser are good
examples. How often when using the term radar do people even think of
it as an abbreviation. Even the D in DNA has several possibilities 
(Desoxyribose Nucleic Acid : Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid: Deoxyribo Nucleic Acid
 Deoxypentose Nucleic Acid).

If the actual material designated cDNA is significantly different for
different people then it is important to make the distinctions clear and 
the exact meaning of cDNA should be explicitly stated in any article in 
which the abbreviation is used.  
To paraphrase Lewis Carrol *the abbreviation means what I want it to mean*

John Cook

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