I am writing a scientific paper describing a group of cells that are consistently patterned together through different developmental stages. Phrased another way, the components of the groups are the same throughout time. To describe these patterns of similarity I have been saying the groups are 'stereotyped'. I have been saying that the groups show 'high levels of stereotypicity' but not sure if this is a real word?! Should I say stereotypicality?

  • 2
    I'd stick with "groups are highly stereotyped". Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 15:17
  • This will be a judgement call. 'Stereotypicality' is rare though Wiktionary lists it; 'stereotypicity' is very rare. Doesn't your institution have usage guides and advisers? Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 15:39
  • By "patterned together", are you referring to physical patterns like the deposition of melanin / pigment during embryogenesis? Or does "patterned together" mean that the cells consistently cluster together in some dimensional reduction analysis (tSNE, UMAP. etc.)? These fields have terms to describe the grouping that you are observing.
    – acvill
    Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 16:23

1 Answer 1


To find out if something is a “real” word, which am taking as “a word in general use”, consult a dictionary, or if you think a word is too technical to be in a dictionary perform a general internet search, or search your literature collection software (EndNote etc.). I have done this, and I conclude:

No. The words are not in Merriam-Webster, and examples of this are sparse, especially in the field of biology.

In any case a six-syllable noun is to be avoided

As a publishing (molecular) biologist of some vintage I would give the following advice.

If there isn’t a single word for it, use a phrase.

What to do is matter of both style and science.

First I would ask myself if “stereotyped” is the best word. Although technically correct, it does have different connotations in daily non-scientific use, which make it sound a little odd. If the decision is to retain it then I would use stereotype, rather than stereotyped, and write something like:

“the stereotype is maintained in a large percentage of cells”


“most aspects of the stereotype are maintained”

depending on what occurs. (“High levels” is unclear and imprecise.)

Alternatives to stereotype that I might consider depend on the science. The “patterned together” is used to describe the phenomenon in the question, but that is unclear. If what is meant is “showing the same pattern” (of what?) then I might use something like “similar patterning”.

Although scientific writing often requires the use of long technical words in order to express ideas precisely, communicating ideas is aided by the use of short plain English words.

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