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Darwin Correspondence Project

To George Howard Darwin   27 May [1867]1


May 27

My dear George

I have got to think that perhaps a better name cd be made for my hypothesis than Pangenesis.2 Cell-genesis wd be perfect if it cd be put into Greek. Atom-genesis or particle-gen—or tissue-gen—might do.

Now do you know any really good Classic who cd suggest any Greek word expressing cell, & which cd be united with genesis? The cells referred to are such as form the tissue of plants. I shd be sorry for a very long word, yet Partheno-gen. & Agamo-gen—have been extensively used. Perhaps I shall have to stick to Pan—

yours affectly | Ch Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from G. H. Darwin, [3 June 1867].
CD published his provisional hypothesis of pangenesis in Variation 2: 357–404; he discussed the hypothesis in letters in 1865 and 1866 (see Correspondence vols. 13 and 14), and finished work on the chapter concerning it on 21 November 1866 (Correspondence vol. 14, Appendix II). On the name pangenesis, see also the letter to T. H. Huxley, 12 June [1867].


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


CD has come to think a name better than "Pangenesis" is needed. Asks GHD to get a suggestion from a classics scholar. "Cell-genesis wd be perfect if it cd be put into Greek."

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Howard Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.1: 2
Physical description
L(S) 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5553,” accessed on 13 July 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15