This question has been bugging me all day. My biology teacher was describing red blood cells (RBC) and said that blood clotting must occur when it should and must not occur when it should not. If the blood clots when it should not, it cause blood flow to stall and to die out.

What should I call this? My teacher called it a "controlled process". But I am not fully convinced this is the right phrase for it:

According to Springer - "controlled process" on the meaning of "controlled process":

Definition. Controlled information processing is a mental process that requires attention and cognitive capacity and has to be initiated by the subject. It is considered to be limited, slow, serial, effortful, and used for unskilled tasks. It is initiated intentionally and shows benefit from practice.

Word/phrase meaning/description:

something that must happen when it should, and must not happen when it shouldn't


The blood clotting must (be) ___.

Is there a word/phrase for this? I have searched quite a while on google but found nothing.

  • 1
    I would think the opposite would be true, that such a process ought to be natural and, thus, uncontrolled.
    – Joachim
    Jul 7 at 5:52

3 Answers 3


Regulated is the right word. Regulation is used in biology also; and can be used to describe the coagulation process. For example, there are regulators to keep the blood clotting process in check. It is a highly regulated system to prevent problems like thrombosis (blood clots blocking veins or arteries). We can also use the term to describe hemostasis (or haemostasis), the process to prevent and stop bleeding, which involves coagulation.

The coagulation system is a highly regulated cascade that ultimately leads to blood clot formation. The primary purpose of coagulation is hemostasis, i.e., to stop bleeding from a damaged blood vessel.
The concept of a stepwise process or cascade of the coagulation system was first described in 1964.

Göbel K, Eichler S, Wiendl H, Chavakis T, Kleinschnitz C and Meuth SG (2018) The Coagulation Factors Fibrinogen, Thrombin, and Factor XII in Inflammatory Disorders—A Systematic Review. Front. Immunol. 9:1731. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.01731 - frontiersin.org

OED definition of the adjective regulated:

Properly controlled, governed, or directed; subject to guidance or regulations. Also: adjusted in response to, or in order to conform to, a principle, standard, set of circumstances, etc.

Also well-regulated (adj):

Properly governed or directed; (now) esp. strictly controlled by rules or regulations. Also: accurately calibrated or adjusted. - OED

Hemostasis is a physiological process that leads to sealing of avasculature break. It must be well regulated, fast and localized. Coagulation is the result of a complex sequence of biochemical reactions, called the coagulation cascade.

Padovani, Francesco & Duffy, James & Hegner, Martin. (2017). Nanomechanical Clinical Coagulation Diagnostics and Monitoring of Therapies. Nanoscale. 9. 10.1039/C7NR06992H. - researchgate.net

A more general timewise word is well-timed which occured to me when I read the title of the question. However, this word has two senses and the second sense is more appropriate for the context, as listed in OED:

1. Occurring, done, or made at a suitable or favourable time; timely, opportune.
2. Performed or used at regular intervals or according to a regular pattern; carried out with precise or accurate timing.

Well-timed is used in biology also. Here are two examples I've found where one of them is in blood coagulation context:

Blood coagulation requires well-timed orchestration of soluble plasma proteins with hematopoietic and vessel wall cellular mediators.

Kretz, Colin & Weyand, Angela & Shavit, Jordan. (2015). Modeling Disorders of Blood Coagulation in the Zebrafish. Current Pathobiology Reports. 3. 10.1007/s40139-015-0081-3. - researchgate.net

Like many biological processes, cell division involves a well-timed, complex coordination of proteins and cellular machinery.


2 words come to my mind.

  1. Rigorous process: Definition of rigorous

    1: manifesting, exercising, or favoring rigor : very strict

    2 a: marked by extremes of temperature or climate


    3: scrupulously accurate : PRECISE

Source: Merriam Webster- rigorous

  1. stringent process


    2: marked by rigor, strictness, or severity especially with regard to rule or standard stringent decontamination procedures

    3: marked by money scarcity and credit strictness a stringent budget

Source: Merriam Webster- stringent

  • 1
    Can you explain what is rigid or strict about the process the OP is talking about?
    – Joachim
    Jul 7 at 10:20

The problem is that the blood has no idea when it "should" clot and when it "shouldn't" clot. It doesn't know why it clots. Aligning what it does do with what we think it should do is backwards. We need to align our understanding with what it does do and when it does it. Blood clotting is mechanistic. The question makes no sense in the context of mechanistic determinism. It only makes sense when the behavior is nondeterministic.

adjective relating to theories which explain phenomena in purely physical or deterministic terms.
"a mechanistic interpretation of nature"
determined by physical processes alone.
"he insisted that animals were entirely mechanistic"

  • I believe when the OP said "If the blood clots when it should not", it is more of a synecdochic usage referring to the whole coagulation (blood clotting) system/process; and can also refer to blood clotting problems and disorders. The example says "blood clotting" also; though, it could use "is" instead of "must (be)" and could use a noun like "process/system" but it is apparent from the overall explanation in the question. Of course, all biological systems are automatically regulated but problems can occur.
    – ermanen
    Jul 7 at 11:25
  • I think the teacher was trying to say that if blood didn't clot when there's a cut in the skin, for example, the person could bleed to death, and if it clotted when there's no breach in the skin, then blood wouldn't circulate properly in the body. Maybe something similar would be the firing of neurons. It wouldn't be helpful for neurons to fire willy-nilly! And it wouldn't be good for them to fire sluggishly when there is a message to pass up or down the chain. (Maybe this is what @ermanen was saying -- I'm not sure.) / Besides regulated, maybe you could also say finely tuned. Jul 8 at 6:44

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