Terms to watch out for

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gender, sex

sex: biological characteristics that identify individual organisms as male or female; also the act of sexual intercourse

gender (in relation to people): socially constructed roles, behaviours and activities associated with males and females, individually or in a group

The couple knew that the baby was female. [sex]
The girls laughed in a very feminine way. [gender]

Whereas the characteristics of sex do not differ substantially between cultures, the characteristics of gender may differ greatly between cultures and between individuals within a culture.

gender (in relation to language): term used in languages (eg French, German, Spanish) in which nouns can take a different definite article to distinguish them as masculine, feminine or neuter. This use of the word is much older than its use in relation to maleness and femaleness in people

gene technology, genetic engineering, genetic modification, gene therapy

gene technology, genetic engineering, genetic modification: these terms are generally interchangeable and are a part of biotechnology. Gene technology is the study of genes and gene expression; it can also mean taking advantage of natural variations in gene expression or manipulating gene expression for a certain purpose. Gene technology often involves cloning. See also cloning

gene therapy: a type of therapy in which a faulty gene is replaced with a working version, or a new gene is introduced to cure a condition or modify its effects

genetically modified organism, genetically modified product

genetically modified organism (GMO): a live organism whose genetic material has been altered using gene technology, or an organism that has inherited genetic traits from an organism that was modified using gene technology

genetically modified product: a thing (other than a GMO) that is derived or produced from a GMO – for example, flour, cotton or oil. Some genetically modified products have been approved for use as food or food additives, or as human or veterinary therapeutic agents. Food or other items containing such products are commonly referred to as GM foods or GM medicines. Use these terms with caution to avoid misunderstanding

genotype, phenotype

genotype: the alleles at a particular locus – that is, the genetic makeup (see also Mendelian genetics)

phenotype: the characteristics of a particular genotype that can be observed in an organism


green, sustainable

green: a colloquial term meaning ‘environmentally friendly’; confusing when used without definition, and best avoided in formal and technical writing

sustainable: refers to systems and processes that can continue functioning in the same way in the future while avoiding adverse effects, especially on the environment or natural resources – for example, sustainable agriculture uses systems that maintain or improve profitable production while conserving natural resources

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