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it refers to a discrete life form that has properties of mind (i.e. experience and character, cf. sentience)

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closed as general reference by tchrist, MετάEd, StoneyB, FumbleFingers, RegDwigнt Oct 2 '12 at 9:27

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

up vote 7 down vote accepted

cf., an abbreviation for the Latin word confer (the imperative singular form of "conferre"), literally meaning "bring together", is used to refer to other material or ideas which may provide similar or different information or arguments. It is mainly used in scholarly contexts, such as in academic (mainly humanities, physics and biology) or legal texts. It is translated, and can be read aloud, as "compare".


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Granted, the literal translation from Latin is "compare to". In practice cf means "see also".

As explained by MachineCharmer, it is the abbreviation of Latin 'confer' and it is used in several languages in addition to English.

English being a conservative language has many more of these Latin abbreviations of Latin origin: cf 'i.e.', 'e.g.', 'viz', 'et al', 'ca', 'q.v.', 'a.d.', 'vs', etc... ;-) than other European languages influenced by Latin.

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Do you have some sources claiming "in practice cf means 'see also'"? Isn't 'see also' the usage of qv.? – Pacerier Oct 14 '14 at 19:54

The NOAD reports cf. means "compare with" (used to refer a reader to another written work or another part of the same written work).
It should not be confused with c.f., which means "carried forward" (used to refer to figures transferred to a new page or account).

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