I'm looking for a word or phrase to describe a work that is a sort of "inferior copy" of another work. For example, one can often find published scientific papers in China that avoid direct plagiarism, however, re-perform or copy the same experiments, with very minor modification, and then analyze the results in the same manner as the previous research paper. Here, "derivative work" or "derivative copy" seems to grant the concept of some originality... I'm looking for something that more strongly implies the lack of any real originality, a kind of "near plagiarism" that would almost get a high school student in trouble.

  • I find the phrase "this paper|film|play is derivative" sounds pejorative, whereas "this is a derivative work" does not so much. Curious. The latter might imply further work based on the prior publication, or be specific wording from a legal standpoint of its intellectual property status as "Not an actual copy"
    – AdamV
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 11:01
  • 1
    A reshah of .. perhaps?
    – Alex K.
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 11:26
  • 1
    rehash, to correct @AlexK. 's typo. :-)
    – Hellion
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 14:48

4 Answers 4


You could call it:

  • a cheap knock-off
  • a pale imitation
  • an unoriginal rehashing
  • a thinly-veiled rewrite
  • a poor reproduction
  • I like thinly-veiled rewrite it gets across the idea that the work is tantamount to direct plagiarism.
    – frances
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 14:56
  • Pale imitation doesn't actually mean that it the copy is derivative at all. It tends to be used for something that doesn't measure up to something else - and doesn't imply that it's actually based on the superior thing.
    – frances
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 15:02

Plastography: Blount Glossogr., Plastography (plastographia), a counterfeiting or false writing.


Forgery is the first word that comes to my mind. -MP

  • 2
    Not really, a forgery is when someone wants to make people think their work is someone else's, but in plagiarism they are hoping you won't notice their work is someone else's.
    – frances
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 15:04
  • AH! I had them backwards. Thanks for catching that. -MP Commented May 13, 2014 at 17:29

Wrong doing, Transgression, piracy..

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