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Terminators: Wordplays for Ideas & Insights

Ontogeny, Ontology, and Onus

March 18, 1997

In honor of Dolly and the demise of the paradigm of cellular impotency, and the rise of mammalian totipotency, we present these three terms, which by irony or serendipity are sequential in the dictionary:

  • Ontogeny

  • Ontology

  • Onus
Ontogeny: the development or course of development especially of an individual organism. From New Latin, from Late Greek, from Greek ont-, on, participle of einai: to be. The root onto- having two meanings: 1: being; existence. 2: organism. (Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition)

Ontology: 1. a branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature and relations of being. 2. a particular theory about the nature of being or the kinds of existents. (Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition)

The Bonus: "onus": the burden of proof, from New Latin: onus probandi, literally "burden of proving" (Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition)

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