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I am trying to coin a name for a feature of a particular three-dimensional (molecular biological) structure. The nature of this is irrelevant — I just need an English term (everyday, technical as in engineering, or Latinate) that might serve as a metaphor.

Consider an object attached at one point to a rope or cord. I am looking for a name for the point at which the cord joins the object. My current working term is “tether”, but I’d like to see if I can find something better.

I did consider umbilicus, using the imagery of the attachment of the umbilical cord to the foetus, but the term tends to be used for the navel, which is an indentation and inappropriate in this case. However the object need not be spheroid, like a foetus, but can be flat or cylindrical. I have considered words that simply mean connection — and there may be appropriate ones I have missed — but I’d like to convey the idea of unity more than separation.

I know for a single-word-request — and it must be a single word because of repetition — I am obliged to provide an example. Here it is, but it won’t help very much:

The ........... is a structure found at the edge of a sheet containing a disruption that causes the strand to emerge at right angles to the sheet.

Difficult, but I’d really welcome suggestions, however outrageous.

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  • How about "perpentickler"? (A portmanteau of perpendicular and tickler)
    – Robusto
    Jul 22, 2020 at 13:02
  • Suggesting novel words / usages is off-topic on ELU, which looks at verifiable standard usage. However, there might be an existing term you're missing. If answers like 'how about perpentickler?' are given (humorous comments are a different matter), I'll have to close-vote. Jul 22, 2020 at 13:08
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    Node? Nexus? Jul 22, 2020 at 13:54
  • If you want people to understand it, make it clear. If you want people to use it, make it common. Link is a word that means what you want (a point of intersection) and is common. It also means other things in other contexts, but if you give it a name in context and define it, could get established. Jul 22, 2020 at 13:57
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    In developmental biology, "bud" is used for the place on an undeveloped fetus where a limb grows, the same on plants too, and one imagines on prions, albeit growth happens from the other end. Jul 22, 2020 at 14:03

2 Answers 2

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How about Anchor? Or [non single word] anchor point.

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  • Single-word-request answers on EL&U are expected to include an authoritative reference and either examples of similar usage or an explanation of why your proposed word is suitable.
    – DW256
    Jul 24, 2020 at 4:06
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Most of the suggestions came in comments (as was perhaps to be expected). I am grateful to those who took the time to make suggestions, but as the rules say don’t answer in comments, I decided to list the answers myself, for the record.

The suggestions addressed different aspects of my description:

  • Those suggesting connection
    link (John Lawler)
    nexus (Decapitated Soul)
  • Those suggesting attachment
    tether (my original)
    anchor (svimes)
    hitch (Decapitated Soul)
  • Those describing the point of attachment
    follicle (Jim)
    bud (Bitter dreggs)
  • Those describing the geometry of the attachment
    There was one comment of this sort, but it involved an invented word, and so cannot be part of the answer. However I retain this heading as an indication of the possibility.
  • Those relating to the ‘cord’
    adfilum (Decapitated Soul)

John Lawler advised on choosing something people could understand, which, although in general is sound advice, did not influence me. For my particular purposes I would have preferred something more exotic to distinguish the feature from others with boring names like ‘turn’ and ‘loop’. I tended towards nexus, but gather this can imply a junction with many connections and reluctantly let it drop. (Also my colleague didn’t like it.) Adfilum was also interesting in this regard, but the prefix doesn’t necessarily convey the suggested idea of towards — more addition.

So in the end I was not totally happy (nor did I really expect to be) but decided on link, suggested by @JohnLawler. (It is more exotic than just ‘link’ — it has a Greek prefix, but any choice would have too.)

(But I decided to ‘accept’ svimes answer, even though I am not using it, because it was an answer and not far from the tether that I have been using for a year or so.)

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  • The rules also forbid the DIYing of terms in answers (doubtless why Robusto kept perpentickler in a 'comment') and suggesting novel namings in general. Which rules should we ignore? Aug 3, 2020 at 14:19
  • @EdwinAshworth — Thank you for putting me right on that. I do not wish to ignore any rules or behave in any other manner but that prescribed. I shall delete that section of my answer. (Where exactly does it say that? Just so I can read it and see if there are any other rules of which I am unaware.)
    – David
    Aug 3, 2020 at 17:46
  • Have you looked through the advice in the 'tour' and at the Help Center? Aug 3, 2020 at 19:09
  • @EdwinAshworth — Gosh! What a good idea. I never thought of that.
    – David
    Aug 3, 2020 at 19:11

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