etymology of "apoptosis"
farmerj at byu.edu
Fri Oct 27 15:32:23 EST 1995
I had a long discussion about the meaning and pronunciation of
"apoptosis" with a friend of mine who is an expert on New
Testament and classical Greek. Between us, we could not come
up with a reasonable etymology for this word that would
indicate that it means "cell death".
Perhaps someone could enlighten us as to the correct etymology.
ptuso = spit
pipto (from ptuso) = fall down, fall
ptoma (pto + ma, from pipto) = fallen body, corpse (-ma is a
diclensional ending, as is -sis)
apo = away from
apoptoma (apo + pto + ma) = eclipse, a falling down, a falling
away from, a falling off, unlucky chance, disappearance, going
out of sight
apoptos = seen, to be seen, out of sight, far away from
ptosis (pto + sis) = falling, a fall, death
So apoptoma might make sense, but apoptosis (apo + ptosis)
would seem to mean "away from death"
By the way, he said that the correct pronunciation for
apoptosis would be ah-pope'-tow-sis (short a sound, accent on
second syllable)-- a pronunciation I haven't heard before.
Not knowing Greek myself, I may have made a mistake in my
notes. If so, blame me, not my friend.
Dept. of Zoology
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah 84602, USA
More information about the Cellbiol