Plagiarism is the process of taking another person’s work, ideas, or words, and using them as if they were your own. But I wonder if there is any particular term for the situation in which two people come up with the same original ideas or use the same original words in their own works, neither being aware of the other one's work.

For example, I'm writing an essay on Bernard Shaw, exploring his plays from a particular perspective, unaware of the fact that someone else has already done the same thing.

  • What we call that round here is a duplicate (though that's more science focused, so you might be able to edit to differentiate).
    – Laurel
    Feb 13, 2022 at 22:01
  • In US court cases of claimed plagiarism, judges are more willing to accept the likelihood of parallel creativity than Since I can prove I wrote it first, and they could have seen it somehow, they must have stolen it. Thus plagiarism. Feb 13, 2022 at 22:24
  • 1
    Simultaneous discovery. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiple_discovery
    – Xanne
    Feb 13, 2022 at 23:06
  • 1
    It is not a proper answer but we might say “Great minds think alike”.
    – Anton
    Feb 13, 2022 at 23:41
  • Simultaneous discovery can happen because something is in the Zeitgeist, suggesting that it's going to inevitably appear multiple times given the general context and environment. On the other hand, it might be a genuinely freakish coincidence.
    – Stuart F
    Feb 14, 2022 at 11:17

1 Answer 1


It seems that often enough, the adverb "*independently" is a term that applies to such situations ; it is found in particular with the verb "to discover" (ngram, examples).


(ref.) The prevailing opinion in the 18th century was against Leibniz (in Britain, not in the German-speaking world). Today the consensus is that Leibniz and Newton independently invented and described the calculus in Europe in the 17th century.


This adverb can also be used to the same effect in a situation of ideas occurring to several persons whithout there being any plagiarism involved.

(ref.) I am sure that the very natural idea to study knots of non-zero thickness occured independently to many other mathematicians, yet I found only one paper on “thick” knots preceding

(ref.) The Smyth report points out that the same idea occured independently to the British physicist Cockcroft, and Turner has told me that von Halban, working in France, had the same idea at the same time.

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