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apoptosis or apo'tosis...

DELANEY 919-541-8577 DELANEYT at am.abru.cg.com
Wed Nov 16 17:08:11 EST 1994

Anne Britt asks...

>Dear net-
>What does the term apoptosis mean, in Greek?  
>I know what the phenomenonis.  Also, I assume 
>the second p is silent, as in Psmith?

The reference for the word 'apoptosis' is in the British J. Cancer 
1972 26:239 (Kerr et al).  Within the paper, credit is given to 
Prof. James Cormack of the Dept of Greek, Aberdeen for suggesting 
apoptosis to describe the specific form of programmed cell death 
that now goes by that name.  In Greek, it is pointed out, the word 
is used to describe the 'dropping off' or 'falling off' of petals 
from flowers, or leaves from trees.  Further, in their paper, Kerr 
et al suggest that the emphasis be on the penultimate syllable and 
that the second 'p' be silent, as the derivation involves the 
related word 'ptosis' (silent 'p') which means 'to fall', and is 
already used to describe the drooping of the upper eyelid.  At a 
meeting last year called 'Apoptosis', great fun was had with various 
permutations in the pronuciation of that word.  I gathered that the 
vote is clearly out in that field, over which pronunciation is 
correct.  However, everyone seemd to feel that *their* pronunciation 
was correct...     ;-)

Terry Delaney

(thanks to Kay Lawton for obtaining a copy of the above cited paper)

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