Let’s say X is cloned to make Y and Y is cloned to make Z. Is there a word that uniquely identifies X in relation to Y? How about identifying X in relation to Z?

  • 5
    You'd probably get a more precise answer over at biology.stackexchange.com
    – kmote
    Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 19:19
  • You could go with the names used for node relationships in a directed tree. X is a parent of Y, a grandparent of Z. X and Y are both ancestors of Z. Z is a child of Y, a grandchild of X. Y and Z are both descendants of X.
    – Ben Lee
    Commented Jul 22, 2012 at 7:12
  • How about mom or dad?
    – Robusto
    Commented Oct 13, 2022 at 0:13

3 Answers 3


Clone Source

Example 1

Human Cloning: Science, Ethics, and Public Policy

(...) Consent of the clone source: a key regulatory issue is whether the clone source - the source of the DNA - must consent to the cloning. (...)

Example 2

Liberty, Identity, and Human Cloning

Eugenic: the meaning of the chosen genome.-A second situation involving rearing a child cloned with the consent of a third party clone source arises when a couple who is coitally fertile (or who could reproduce noncoitally with their own gametes) prefers instead to bear and rear a child who is the clone of another person. The clone source could be a parent or family member, a friend, or another whose genes they find desirable. Their claim is that they will have and rear a child only if it is cloned from the DNA of the source they have in mind. Does their procreative liberty include the right to clone and rear?

Now, if the source itself is a clone, I'd say we could refer to it as the clone source's source.

Note: If you're writing scifi, I'd suggest source and grandsource, but the latter I just made up.

  • I love "grandsource" now I'm looking for an opportunity to use that in conversation. Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 19:11
  • Would accepting this mean, with respect to clone relationships, dropping the terms "ancestor", "descendant", and "sibling"? Would you just have "clone source" and "clone"? Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 20:54

I guess I don't see what is wrong with parent. If I were cloning a plant, the parent plant would be the parent to all the clones.

When they tissue culture hostas and make clones I have seen the source plant called the mother plant.

I guess you could use donor if you wanted to get all clinical. Or perhaps The Clone Daddy if you wanted to be hip.

  • +1 for parent. Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary's entry for clone: "one or a group of genetically identical cells, organisms, or plants derived by vegetative reproduction from a single parent." (Vegetative reproduction is asexual reproduction, as opposed to sexual reproduction.)
    – JLG
    Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 19:23
  • 2
    The problem with "parent" is that it doesn't differentiate a biological descendant from a clone. In the case of a sheep, for example, those are different things.
    – Gabe
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 15:31
  • @JLG I like the idea that clones of animals (including humans) are produced _vegetatively _. I can see no reason why that would not be the case.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 8:21

I think originator is a reasonable word for a progenitor of a clone, but it's not clear to me whether it should be the first in the line of descendants or the most direct ancestor.

  • I think Gabe says it best above (probably why no one else has responded?), "progenitor of a clone" I think says it best.
    – Aaron
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 23:33

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