cf. is an abbreviation for the
Latin-derived (but also modern English) word "confer", meaning "compare" or "consult".It is mainly used in common and statute law contexts as well as in academic writing. [ [http://www.latrobe.edu.au/lasste/resources/scholabbrev.html Scholarly Abbreviations at LaTrobe University] ] .
Thus "cf." is often used by authors in the text of their article or book to refer to other academic material which may provide auxiliary information or arguments to the understanding of theirs.
It is sometimes used (primarily in dictionaries) to imply insight into the preceding word's
etymology— that is, to suggest how one term obtained its particular naming convention (perhaps from another phrase). For example, the phrase " Big Whack(cf. Big Bang)" suggests to the reader that the usage of the moniker(self-given nickname) "Big Whack" derives at least its name from the latter.
In the system of
binomial nomenclature, the use of "cf." is similarly used to indicate that the species needs to be seen in context of its comparison to another, but by definition is not confirmed as the same. For example "Corvus" cf. "splendens" indicates "a bird similar to the House Crowbut not certainly identified as this species". For this reason many mistakenly believe that "cf." is an abbreviated form of "confirmed" or "inconfirmatus" or the like.
List of Latin abbreviations
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