A deficiency of education in language

What a sad etymological confusion.

Many words have Trans in them. Transport, translate, transcribe etc
But Cis? Before recently it was only used in one word before it was hailed as “How To Describe Not-Trans People”
A cistern. Ya know, that thing in a toilet
They’re comparing biological women to toilets. Lovely

It’s also in “transparent transformer” and “transition”. Also “transacetylase”. You’re reaching if you find that list of words relevant.

No, this is not an insulting comparison, not on multiple levels. “Cis” is a reasonable common prefix — it just means “on the same side.” It’s unfortunate that some people’s education is so lacking that they don’t understand the term…or rather, willfully misinterpret it.

“Cistern” doesn’t have the same derivation (I looked it up, and it comes from the Latin “cista”, or box). Saying that someone is cis is not comparing them to a toilet, or a box for that matter, nor it is in any sense pejorative.

Also, a cistern is not a toilet. It’s a storage container. I hope she hasn’t been excreting in a cistern, that would be very, very bad.

Don’t worry, she has an excuse — she doesn’t care about those obscure technical words, and she’s going to blame it on her father.

Oh wow so it’s in some obscure technical words, too? Well that’s me shut up.
Except no. I was having a chat with my lovely Dad who is a translator from Latin, Greek, Swedish, Italian, Spanish, French & German.
He understands the nuance of etymology vs the context of language

Sorry, wrong again. If he was telling you that calling someone cis is comparing them to a toilet, he really doesn’t understand the nuance of etymology. I suspect, though, that that was an invention of Ms Rosetta. Poor dad.

Really, just look it up in a dictionary, or recognize the common usage. I’m cis, I’m not uncomfortable saying so, and no one I know associates it with being called a toilet. That’s just stupid.


  1. Anthony Barcellos says

    Heck, I remember “cis” from science fiction novels I read back in the sixties! Some writers used the word “cislunar” to describe the region between earth and moon. I didn’t realize at the time that I should have been horrified. ;)

  2. wzrd1 says

    How odd that an alleged translator of Latin (I guess he works for the delegation to the Roman Empire) doesn’t know the Latin preposition of cis, meaning “on this side of”.
    Although, the last person that was foolish enough to tell me to shut up was promptly broken of that unfortunate habituation.

    Sounds like she’s another fine exemplar for the justification for lead abatement in home plumbing.

  3. wzrd1 says

    Anthony, it’s far, far worse! Why, there’s also translunar injection.
    I’ll just get my coat…

  4. cartomancer says

    Does anyone else appreciate the irony of someone called Rosetta getting the translation of ancient languages wrong? Clearly she must be stoned.

  5. Reginald Selkirk says

    Except no. I was having a chat with my lovely Dad who is a translator from Latin, Greek, Swedish, Italian, Spanish, French & German.

    Which has what to do with what? Is she saying her father agreed with her? Or is she just bragging that her father has credentials, with no relevance to the current topic?

    He understands the nuance of etymology vs the context of language

    In a way that she does not?

  6. remyporter says

    It’s also terrible etymology, as “cistern” originates from a Greek root (kiste – “chest”). Now, admittedly, the path into English does pass through Latin and French, but the “cist-” there is not the prefix “cis-“. Further, a cistern is a receptacle for fluids, with no discretion for the nature of those fluids- a fresh water tank is a cistern. So the whole toilet thing is extra dumb.

  7. outis says

    Like #4 Medicated notices, “cisalpine” is a word found in Latin and the Italian equivalent “cisalpino/a” is present in that language, along with its opposite “transalpino/a”. Maybe the “lovely Dad” should have brought her up to speed regarding that fact, and the widespread use of those prefixes in chemistry.
    Prolly a case of stoned twittering: Typing Under the Influence?

  8. raven says

    Cis and trans are also common words used in chemistry a lot.

    Cis fatty acid has both hydrogen atoms located on the same side. On the contrary, trans fatty acid has the two hydrogen atoms on opposite sides. Fatty acids with cis configuration are typical in natural foods.

  9. gijoel says

    I remember Andrea Dworkin use to play those types of word games to justify her anti-porn stance. It sounded stupid back then and it sounds stupid now.

  10. raven says

    Cis and trans are also common terms in biology.
    In fact, cis and trans are common terms widely used in molecular biology, chemistry, and geography.

    To not know that indicates a lack of education.
    To not know that and not bother to look it up on Google means you are lazy and not at all interested in learning anything new.
    To imply that cis is an insult is just cosmically stupid reasoning by a right wingnut hater.

    in the DNA, which are the called cis acting elements and which are the called trans acting elements

    in the DNA, which are the called cis acting elements and which are the called trans acting elements
    Asked by: alejandro cerutti

    Latest Reply:
    Hi Alejandro,
    Let’s start by discussing the meaning of “cis” and “trans.” The term cis is derived from the Latin root “cis,” meaning “the same side as.” In contrast, the term trans comes from the Latin root “trans,” meaning “across from.” In molecular biology, a cis-acting (or cis-regulatory) element refers to a region of the chromosomal DNA that regulates the transcription or expression of a gene that is on the same chromosome. A trans-acting (or trans-regulatory) element, on the other hand, refers to a soluble protein that binds to the cis-acting element of a gene to control its expression. The gene that encodes the soluble trans-acting protein can reside on any chromosome, often located far away from the gene whose expression it regulates.

    Cis-acting elements are not part of the coding sequences of the gene they regulate: they may be near the promoter or the 5’ region of the gene, and in some cases they may be many kilobases downstream of the gene. In eukaryotes, enhancers are a common type of cis-acting element. As its name implies, an enhancer promotes gene expression when the appropriate trans-acting element(s) binds to it. (Deleted sentences for length).

    Trans-acting elements, also known as transcription factors, can either promote or inhibit gene expression. A given transcription factor can work with other transcription factors to regulate the expression of a single gene or a group of related genes.
    As you can see, cis- and trans-acting elements are key players when it comes to gene regulation!

  11. lb says

    I learned about cis and trans isomers during my first semester of organic chemistry, way back in the late 1980’s.

  12. Tethys says

    Cist is pronounced with a hard C – kist
    As noted, a cist (noun) is a chest or box, but it’s also a type of stone lined grave. It does not share a root with cis so both context and nuance of etymology aren’t relevant. She is simply wrong and transphobic.

    Cartomancer @7

    Does anyone else appreciate the irony of someone called Rosetta getting the translation of ancient languages wrong?

    I certainly do. I’m also amused by the concept of nuance of etymology. A word means what I say it means! No more and no less.

  13. bravus says

    Jinx, #16: came to say the same thing. When I started having trans friends, that vocab was already preloaded.

  14. bravus says

    Followup to my #19 above: when I started to understand that I had trans friends. May well have had some long before that.

  15. woozy says


    Anyone who ever lived rurally knows what a water cistern is. If you use it as a toilet then… you aren’t going to last very long.

    She’s confusing “cistern” with “septic” which are both referring to rural liquid storage with an initial sibilant. I can see people who don’t have direct experience with them getting them confused but… one would simply be wrong.

    Comparing a cis person with a source of fresh filtered drinking water is … well, I guess her joke just loses the punch.

  16. John Morales says

    Two things:
    1: “that thing in a toilet”, not “that thing is a toilet”;
    2: “the nuance of etymology vs the context of language” was probably meant to be read as “(the nuance of) (etymology vs the context) of language”.

  17. Pierce R. Butler says

    (Another ave! to cartomancer @ # 7)

    Has nobody else here ever had to fix a flush toilet, or get parts for one?

    We often call that water tank of same a cistern, because the term does apply.

    Which does not, alas, imply that Rosetta pere or filla have any better practical skills than they do etymologically; note also the relatively clean and functionally necessary cistern sits upstream of the waste receptacle (called the “bowl” as a calculated and unAmerican insult to the Super one – whatcha say about that, EJ?).

  18. says

    I refuse to believe that “a translator from Latin” who “understands etymology in the context of language” has never heard the name “Cisalpine Gaul”…

  19. chrislawson says

    Adding to other’s observations:

    [1] The term cisalpine (English)/cisalpina (Latin) has been used extensively over many centuries by writers and historians, including Julius Caesar himself in a book (The Gallic Wars) so famous it is frequently parodied in the Asterix comics;
    [2] Far from being obscure technical words, high school students learn about cis- and trans- molecular arrangements;
    [3] She is an etymological purist until her error is revealed, at which point she suddenly becomes all “language as she is spoke” — only it doesn’t save her because she is wrong both etymologically and by common usage.

    It’s almost as if honesty was never a critical factor in what she wrote.

  20. chrislawson says

    Oh, and [4], like many idiot transphobes, she only thinks about one kind of transgender, but in fact cisgender refers to both men and women and is not, as she deceitfully tries to make out, a slur specifically against women.

  21. moonslicer says

    Another example of an anti-transer going well out of her way to find/invent another complaint against transgender people.

    As I and others have noted, the only people who object to the term cis(-gender) are those who oppose transgender rights. If heterosexual people ever objected to the term “straight”, that was so long ago that I personally don’t remember.

    So you’d think that non-transgender people would be OK with a term that states that they’re not trans. But no, the problem so many of them have is that in acknowledging the term and reality of cisgender people, they’re automatically acknowledging the term and reality of transgender people. That’s where they get hung up.

  22. StevoR says

    @ 29. chrislawson & # 2. darrelplant :

    Yup. See my comment here. :


    on the previous similar thread which may or may not have been the wrong one here?

    @7. cartomancer : “Does anyone else appreciate the irony of someone called Rosetta getting the translation of ancient languages wrong? Clearly she must be stoned.”

    Applauds & adds – and also waaaa-aay off the planet Earth here too!

  23. lumipuna says

    Wait until she finds out humans are Homo sapiens. So they’re tell us all people are gay tree sap?!?

    The hominid family has genus Homo and genus Pan, but no genus Hetero.

    Something something small seabird can be both cis or trans

    Cis terns migrate within the same hemisphere where they breed, while trans terns travel all the way to enjoy summer again on the opposite hemisphere.

  24. DanDare says

    Seeing a lot of these word games being put forward as arguments lately. The darkside seem to have decided its clever or something.

  25. magistramarla says

    cartomancer @7
    Yes! I nearly choked when I read her name. I wonder if her father even knows that she is misquoting him?

  26. malleefowl says

    Ah. So I get it now. A cis person is one who marries a person of the same sex, and a trans person is someone who marries a person of the opposite sex. :-)

  27. John Morales says

    malleefowl, you haven’t thought your little joke through, so it falls flat.

    (What is an unmarried person, then?)

  28. F.O. says

    They don’t care.

    Their reasoning is valid because it reaches the conclusion they want.

    Your reasoning is wrong because it reaches the conclusion they don’t like.

    The rest is just an exercise in finding some way to connect the conclusion they want to some soundbites.
    Logic or evidence have nothing to do with the process.

  29. StevoR says

    @38. malleefowl : Were you trying to be funny or sarcastic or actually serious? I can’t tell but oeople being trans or cis has nothing to do with who they marry.

    FYI. A trans person is someone who has a different gender tro the one they were assigned at birth and a cis person is someone who has the same gender they were assigned at birth. But you knew that? Right?