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Officers of Division M

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Information about the ASM General Meeting, and other meetings of interest.

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Instructions on assembling icosahedra, links to web sites about teaching, books, and more.

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Information about and micrographs, diagrams, or other images of specific phages.

Links to other sites on the World Wide Web that are primarily about bacteriophages or generally about viruses.

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This web site was created by Division M, which is responsible for its contents.
This web site is supported by ASM and the Membership Board.

Created 1/25/98, revised 7.18.00

Please send comments or corrections to Susan Godfrey ssg1@pitt.edu or
Roger Hendrix rhx@pitt.edu.

Copyright © 1998 American Society for Microbiology, all rights reserved.

How to pronounce them . . .

phage picture


In the context of an English sentence, the words bacteriophage and phage are pronounced with a long a, and thus they rhyme with words such as ‘page’, ‘rage’, ‘stage’ and ‘new age’.

When speaking French, ‘phage’ generally assumes a Gallic pronunciation and thus comes to rhyme with ‘garage’, ‘barrage’ and ‘découpage’. This is perfectly acceptable in this context.

Perhaps because France has always been the locus of much good phage research, some English speaking scientists have adopted the French pronunciation when speaking about phages in English. This is an affectation and an error.

(Follow this link to hear a genuine bacteriophage scientist pronouncing ‘phage’ and ‘bacteriophage’ in English.)

If you are afflicted with phage mispronunciation, we recommend brief but frequent practice sessions in front of a mirror or a sympathetic colleague, in which you repeat ‘bacteriophage’ and ‘phage’ in alternation, striving for the approved pronunciation. After only a few weeks you will have mastered the pronunciation and will never again need to fear public embarrassment when speaking of bacteriophage.

Disclaimer: This pronunciation guide is brought to you as a public service by the authors of this homephage. Although it reflects common usage in the phage research community and is endorsed by the officers of Division M, we hasten to add that there is no official ASM policy regarding the pronunciation of ‘phage’ and ‘bacteriophage’, and this guide should therefore not be taken to reflect any such policy.

The Greek letter Phi is used often in naming new bacteriophage, though P or no special designation are also common. For the phage spelled with the Greek letter, its pronunciation is related to historical practice, rather than to any notions of what is "correct".
Thus, the phage X174 is nearly always pronounced (American phonetics) "fie ex one seven four".
By contrast, the phage 80 (a lambdoid phage) is by some people pronounced "fie eighty" and by others "fee eighty".