I am looking for a concise word which means "that which is mimicked". For context, we have a synthetic device which mimics the behavior of a biological structure. I want to say something like:

...as the performance of [synthetic device] approaches that of its [word referring to the biological counterpart]...

EDIT: The sentence I am toying with is the following, with the bolded word something I would like to replace with the requested word:

"Fabrication techniques that combine DNA motion control with base-recognition tunnelling are likely to be of great interest in the coming decade as solid-state nanopores strive to catch up to their biological counterparts in the sequencing space."

I like "inspirators" in place of counterparts there.

  • is this in the context of prosthetic or of bionic? or simply a replica?
    – psosuna
    Sep 11, 2017 at 20:09
  • Please see the info on word requests. Here's a summary: Describe exactly in what context you want to use the word or phrase--generally we want a sample sentence. Specify the criteria you'll use for accepting answers. Detail the research you've already done. List words or phrases you've already considered but rejected, and explain why. Provide information about the connotation, register, and part of speech you are looking for.
    – MetaEd
    Sep 11, 2017 at 20:09
  • @d.b simulated in this context (physics paper) would mean literal computer simulation, but it's not a bad idea with the info I gave. I like both template and inspirator here. Thanks everyone! I will edit the question per the comment above.
    – KBriggs
    Sep 12, 2017 at 13:23

2 Answers 2


I actually really like "counterpart" here. It fits well.


A person or thing that corresponds to or has the same function as another person or thing in a different place or situation.
‘the minister held talks with his French counterpart’

In a similar vein, you could also use "analogue":


A person or thing seen as comparable to another.
‘an interior analogue of the exterior world’

However, I don't like "inspirator" here.

I understand what you're trying to convey by using "inspirator". You're trying to say that the synthetic part has been designed to be a valid substitute for the biological part.

While semantically valid, it focuses on the wrong message.

In your example sentence, you are trying to express that the two objects have a similar function (which is why you opted for calling them counterparts, they both fill the same need). But calling them an "inspirator" expresses that the synthetic part was inspired by the organic part.

While the latter may be factually correct, it's simply not relevant to the context of the current sentence. Its meaning clashes with the meaning of the sentence it is used in.

In the comments, you also suggest "template". I'm not a fan of "template", for the same reason that I'm not a fan of "inspirator" in this context. While factually correct, it's simply not the quality that you're trying to focus on in your example sentence. The sentence focuses on interchangeability, not inspiration.

  • Those are good points, and I think you're right, after playing around with the sentence some more. Counterpart will stay. Your explanation about interchangeability versus inspiration is well put.
    – KBriggs
    Sep 12, 2017 at 15:17

Counterpart is the word that is often used in biology textbooks in similar sentences, and is probably the best pick.

However, the word prototype is defined on Webster as "an original or first model of something from which other forms are copied or developed." So that, I think, answers your direct question.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.