The trouble with collective nouns for genome editing

Mamm Genome. 2017 Aug;28(7-8):365-366. doi: 10.1007/s00335-017-9707-6. Epub 2017 Jul 18.


We should start as we mean to go on and try to avoid the confusion most of us experience when bombarded with acronyms with overstated significations. You will be familiar with the situation, you are in a seminar or a meeting and someone who has been using a set of acronyms for years, includes them in sentence after sentence that has you lost because you don't know what some or most of them stand for. Even worse when scientists start making verbs out of them, CRISPR seems to have fallen into this category; how many of us have heard someone asking if a mutation can be CRISPRed! Does it matter though? We are all familiar with informal language in scientific talks and discussions which is replaced by more formal dialect when research is published or presented to the general public. However, when an ill-defined acronym slips outside of laboratory chatter and is widely recognised by the general public, we need to proceed with caution to avoid misinterpretation and misunderstandings.

Publication types

  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Abbreviations as Topic*
  • Animals
  • Gene Editing* / methods
  • Gene Editing* / standards
  • Genetic Engineering / methods
  • Genetic Engineering / standards
  • Genome*
  • Humans
  • Organisms, Genetically Modified
  • Public Opinion