When expressing the meaning "rate at which the mRNA is translated to proteins by ribosomes", should I use "translational rate" or "translation rate"? And similarly, when describing efficiency of this process, should I used "translational efficiency" or "translation efficiency"?

I read that noun can be used as adjectives. When searching usage at website of a famous bioligical journal, both usage can be found:



Is there a correct one and the other is incorrect or both ones are acceptable?

  • 1
    It seems like a knowledge of the particular terminology of the domain is needed. But in standard English I would prefer translation rate. Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 12:26
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    Yes. The attributive noun ("translation rate") is to be preferred here.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 12:33
  • Thanks for the comments. I also think using noun is better with a meaning of "rate of translation" while the "translational rate" sounds more like "a special rate for something".
    – mt1022
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 12:44
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    rate of translation is an idiomatic possibility. books.google.com/…
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 13:30
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    I think "translation rate" is the approved biological term, see for example Maximizing Protein Translation Rate in the Ribosome Flow Model: The Homogeneous Case.
    – Andrew
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 6:09

1 Answer 1


As with any jargon used in a specific academic or technical field, in any language, the answer is to use what your readers expect. In this case it seems both translation and translational are used, and it's difficult to say if there is any difference in meaning between the two. Examples:

Maximizing Protein Translation Rate in the Ribosome Flow Model: The Homogeneous Case.

The synthesis rate of a protein in general is proportional to the concentration and translational efficiency of its mRNA.

It sounds as if these terms are interchangeable, but your best bet is to ask someone, such as a university professor, who is familiar with the literature.

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