What is a word that can function as the inverse of a duplicate question on Stack Exchange? I was looking, in the context of this question on meta, for such a word to distinguish the closed duplicate from the one it was closed as a duplicate of. The relationship is not simply an equal one between duplicate and duplicate, but more like the one between original and copy (where I seek the word for the original). I eventually just coined the word anti-duplicate, but a coined word hardly seems a satisfactory solution.

Possible words include:

  • Any of original, pattern, model, and example/exemplar seem to imply designed similarity. I don't completely understand the nuances of paradigm, but it sounds like it belongs in this category as well.
  • Standard, ideal, and benchmark come close, but imply official or objective standards, which no question on SE can be. (Can it?)
  • Archetype/archetypical comes close, but the NOAD under the Usage for "model" says, "An archetype is a perfect and unchanging form that existing things or people can approach but never duplicate." Duplicate questions, however, have approached and duplicated the anti-duplicate.
  • Prototype/prototypical comes close as well, but under the aforementioned usage entry the NOAD says, "a prototype is an early, usually unrefined version of something that later versions reflect but may depart from." The anti-duplicate, in contrast, is the refined version, at least in theory, and again, the duplicate has been thus marked because it did not depart from the anti-duplicate.

While I seek a different word, I note that if any of the above can be shown to be correct, or if no single word can be found, but a phrase can, either of those will do as well.

  • Actually the status quo is that people use either "original" or "dupe". Yes, "dupe" for both the original and the copy. It's usually not that hard to figure out from the context which one they must mean.
    – RegDwigнt
    Apr 23, 2012 at 20:03
  • 1
    All your examples are excellent and work in the contexts noted. Not much more that anyone else can answer!
    – Mitch
    Apr 23, 2012 at 21:29
  • I am an expert of closed questions, but your question, although is still being open, seems quite incomprensible to me. However +1 Apr 23, 2012 at 21:35
  • possible duplicate of Word for "the question this one was closed as a dupe of"
    – zpletan
    Apr 25, 2012 at 1:43

5 Answers 5


Not sure if this helps, but original has the following senses.

  • Preceding all others in time; first.
  • Being the source from which a copy, reproduction, or translation is made.

You say original comes with the notion of "designed similarity", but perhaps we can call a post "original" if it simply precedes the newer one in time.

  • As you said, zpletan, "I seek the word for the original". An original can't be designed for similarity because at the time it is made, it is still unique... until its copy is made, of course. +1 from me, the word works just fine for this purpose. Apr 24, 2012 at 6:48
  • In light of RegDwight's comment above, I'm marking this as the answer. See also the duplicate question (which is actually the original) above.
    – zpletan
    May 2, 2012 at 14:14

Extending a metaphor a bit, you might use touchstone. If you put it in quotation marks the first time and explain it, then it should be O.K. to use for your purpose.

EDIT: From a purely technical point of view, ur-Question would be just right... if it weren't a candidate for "world's ugliest word" :)


How about predecessor?

(I also like antecedent, but it may have connotations of causality that are undesirable.)


Borrowing from math, where you have dividend/divisor and multiplicand*multiplier, how about 'duplicand', where the relationship is duplicand (original) => duplicate (copy).


Unique. adjective 1. existing as the only one or as the sole example; single; solitary in type or characteristics

A unique copy of an ancient manuscript.

  • Aren't "unique" and "copy" mutually exclusive by definition? Apr 24, 2012 at 6:44
  • A copy has adopted the meaning of "a version of a work". Saying that I have the original copy is perfectly understood by everybody who isn't trying to make trouble. Apr 25, 2012 at 5:52
  • Yes, if there are multiple copies, having the "original copy" makes perfect sense. But if it's unique... not my downvote by the way (lest you think I'm trying to make trouble), just my observation. Apr 25, 2012 at 8:21

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