Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. It's 100% free, no registration required.

"This is a copy; the original painting is in the Louvre museum". Why can't we use the word "genuine" (not a copy or a fake), instead of "original?"

share|improve this question
add comment

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The word original works better when there is only one work in question:

This is a copy; the original Mona Lisa hangs in the Louvre.


The word genuine could work if we are talking about something that is not a forgery or a reproduction:

This is a genuine Manet painting.

means that Manet painted it; it's not some facsimile of a Manet work.


In some contexts, either word could be used:

His whole life, he saved money, hoping one day to buy a genuine Picasso.

His whole life, he saved money, hoping one day to buy an original Picasso.

Both of those refer to a work created by Picasso's hand, although the first carries a slight connotation of "as opposed to a replica."

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 It definitely comes down to singular vs. plural. The original would refer the one and only painting where a genuine would refer to one of many paintings that are all legitimate works by the artist. –  Dryden Long Apr 2 at 20:15
add comment

'Genuine' in this case (the world of fine art) would imply that the copy is a fake, a forgery, intended to deceive or defraud a buyer.

Instead, it was probably a copy by hand or photographic reproduction intended to illustrate the work for audiences who could not travel to the Louvre. So we refer to the "original" work of art.

share|improve this answer
1  
I would say "original" should also be used when comparing to prints (even those made by the artist of the original). For example, I have a picture hanging in my room which is print #2 of 5, but it is not the original. –  Brian S Apr 2 at 21:47
1  
Also, if someone took a paintbrush and used it to apply paint to a canvas, the result is a genuine painting, even if it isn't the Mona Lisa. –  Martha Apr 2 at 23:23
    
@Martha If you painted a copy of the Mona Lisa, you would not go around calling it "genuine," even though it genuinely is a painting :) –  relaxing Apr 3 at 14:17
add comment

In this case, "original" and "copy" are part of the jargon used. The original is that which the copy is made from.

Compare with using a copying machine. If you copy a document, the document being duplicated is referred to as "the original" and the duplicate is "the copy". Even if "the original" may itself be a copy of the real, genuine document!

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.