Michele Triplett's Fingerprint Terms ©
A collection of over 1000 terms used in the Science of Fingerprint Identification.

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A-Naphaflavone
Chemical used in fixing Iodine processed friction ridge detail.
SWGFAST, Glossary - Consolidated 09-09-03 ver. 1.0
http://www.swgfast.org/Glossary_Consolidated_ver_1.pdf

AAFS
American Academy of Forensic Science.

ACE-V
Analysis, Comparison, Evaluation, Verification. The acronym for the process of 
analyzing information, performing a visual comparison, arriving at a conclusion 
and having the conclusion verified. 

ACE-V was first formulated and suggested for use for physical evidence in 1959 
by Inspector Roy A. Huber, RCMP. Inspector Huber referred to the process as ACE 
with Verification. It was then brought to the friction ridge discipline in the 
1980’s by RCMP Staff Sergeant David Ashbaugh, who popularized the process and 
termed it ACE-V. 

A- Analysis: The unknown item must be reduced to a matter of properties or characteristics.  These 
properties may be directly observable, measurable, or otherwise perceptible qualities.
C- Comparison: The properties or characteristics of the unknown are now compared with the familiar 
or recorded properties of known items.
E- Evaluation: It is not sufficient that the comparison disclose similarities or dissimilarities 
in properties or characteristics.  Each characteristic will have a certain value for identification 
purposes, determined by its frequency of occurrence.  The weight or significance of each must 
therefore be considered.
Verification- It (scientific method) insists upon verification as the most reliable form of proof.
Insp. Roy Huber, Identification News Nov. 1962

A- analyze - The first step, analysis, requires the expert to examine and 
analyze all variables influencing the friction ridge impression in question. 
This begins with an understanding of friction ridged skin and the transition 
of the three dimensional skin structure to a two dimensional image. When 
examining latent fingerprints, several factors must be accounted for and 
understood. Some of these factors are the material upon which the latent print 
has been deposited, the development process(es), pressure distortion, and 
external elements (blood, grease, etc.). The quantity and quality of the latent 
print ridges influences the examiners ability to perform the next phase. The 
conclusion of the analysis process is a determination as to whether sufficient 
information exists to proceed to the next phase.
C- compare - The comparison process introduces the known exemplar with which 
the latent print is to be compared. At this point, there is also another analysis 
phase taking place. This analysis is of the known exemplar in an effort to 
determine the suitability for achieving the conclusion stated above. It is 
possible that the known exemplar may contain fingerprint images that are too 
heavily inked or smudged, and thereby unreliable, thus preventing a conclusive 
comparison. The comparison process begins with determining the general ridge 
flow and shape (Level 1 Detail) in an effort to properly orient the latent print 
with a corresponding area of the known exemplar fingerprints. This is generally 
followed by selecting key focal characteristics (Level 2 Detail), understanding 
their position, direction and relationship and then comparing this formation 
with the formations in the known exemplar. The quality and quantity of this 
information directly affects the ease or difficulty of this process.
E- evaluate - The result of the comparison is the evaluation process or making 
a conclusion. The general fingerprint community refers to the conclusions drawn as 
being one of three choices. First, the two impressions (latent fingerprint and 
the known fingerprint) were made by the same finger of the same person. Second, 
the latent impression was not made by any of the fingers of the exemplar 
fingerprints. And third, a conclusive comparison could not be achieved, generally 
due to the lack of adequate clarity or the absence of comparable area in the 
known exemplar. In order to establish an identification decision, this process 
must ensure that all of the fingerprint details are the same and maintain the 
same relationship, with no existing unexplainable differences.
V- verify - The final process is verification. The general rule is that all 
identifications must be verified by a second qualified expert. This verification 
process by a second examiner is an independent examination of the two fingerprint 
impressions (latent fingerprint and known exemplar fingerprint) applying the 
scientific methodology of analysis, comparison and evaluation described above.
United States vs. Byron Mitchell
Government's Combined report to the Court and Motions in Limine Concerning 
Fingerprint evidence.

ACLASS
Assured Calibration and Laboratory Accreditation Select Services.

ACPO
Association of Chief Police Officers.  The ACPO leads and coordinates the direction 
and development of the police service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

ADA
The American Dermatoglyphics Association (ADA) is a non-profit scientific and 
educational organization with membership worldwide. The mission of the ADA is 
to encourage and advance the science and applications of dermatoglyphics, and 
to facilitate cooperation among the membership and others with similar aims. 
Applications of dermatoglyphics encompasses the fields of anthropology, 
medicine, primatology, law, identification, embryology, and genetics. 
http://www.physanth.org/annmeet/prizes/dermato.html 08-13-2003

ADAMS
Authenticated Digital Asset Management System.

A computer program designed to authenticate and track digital evidence.  
Produced by Foray Technologies. 

AFIS
Automated Fingerprint Identification System. A general term for a computerized friction 
ridge storage and retrieval system. AFIS computers were initially specific for fingerprints 
but later added palmprint storage and search capabilities.

The acronym for Automated Fingerprint Identification System, a generic term for a fingerprint 
matching, storage, and retrieval system.
SWGFAST, Standard Terminology of Friction Ridge Examination 3-23-11 ver. 3.0

ALPS
Automated Latent Print System.

ALS
See Alternate Light Source.

ANAB
ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board. ANAB is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that 
provides accreditation services to public and private-sector organizations and is jointly owned 
by the American National Standards Institute and the American Society for Quality. In 2015, ANAB, 
ACLASS, and FQS moved to the single brand name of ANAB.

ANSI-ASQ
American National Standards Institute-American Society of Quality.

ANSI/NIST-ITL
American National Standards Institute/ National Institute of Standards and Technology-
Information Technology Laboratory.

ANSI/NIST-ITL Standard
The ANSI/NIST-ITL standard provides an exchange specification for biometric data and 
other data used to identify individuals or verify their claimed identity. It is 
primarily oriented toward law enforcement and related criminal justice applications.
The standard was first published in 1986 and focused on the exchange of fingerprint 
information. It has been updated several times, with the latest being the 2011 version.
http://www.nist.gov/itl/iad/ig/ansi_standard.cfm 3-18-2011

APIS
Automated Palmprint Identification System. This term was used when computer matching systems 
began comparing minutia on palmprints.  After it became standard practice for AFIS computers 
to include palm print search capabilities then the term AFIS was expanded to refer to any 
friction ridge minutia matching system, making the term APIS unnecessary.

The acronym for Automated Palmprint Identification System, a generic term for a palmprint 
(or complete friction ridge exemplar) matching, storage, and retrieval system.
SWGFAST, Standard Terminology of Friction Ridge Examination 3-23-11 ver. 3.0

ASB
Academy Standards Board. A group approved in 2015 and accredited as an SDO by ANSI in early 
2016. The ASB will review proposed standards and guidelines and forward general consensus 
standards to ANSI, the ASB’s accrediting body, for publication. Positions were filled for 
the fingerprint SDO in June 2016.

ASCLD
American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors.

ASCLD/LAB
American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board.

Accuracy
A measurement of how precise a conclusion or a set of conclusions is to the real value. 
The accuracy of fingerprint conclusions cannot be established since the ground truth is 
unknown. The strength of a conclusion can be measured by assessing the support behind a 
conclusion. 
 
Acetone
Solvent used as a carrier in reagents; also used as a cleaning agent.
SWGFAST, Glossary - Consolidated 09-09-03 ver. 1.0
http://www.swgfast.org/Glossary_Consolidated_ver_1.pdf

Acetonitrile
Solvent used as a carrier in reagents; also used as a cleaning agent.
SWGFAST, Glossary - Consolidated 09-09-03 ver. 1.0
http://www.swgfast.org/Glossary_Consolidated_ver_1.pdf

Acid Fuchsin
Reddish protein stain used to enhance bloody friction ridge detail.
SWGFAST, Glossary - Consolidated 09-09-03 ver. 1.0
http://www.swgfast.org/Glossary_Consolidated_ver_1.pdf

Also known as Hungarian Red.

Acid Yellow 7
A fluorescent dye stain used to visualize latent prints left in blood on nonporous 
surfaces.  Optimum viewing is at 400-490nm, using a clear, yellow, or light orange 
filter (depending on the wavelength used).

Acidified Hydrogen Peroxide
A solution used to develop friction ridge detail on cartridge casings by 
etching the surface of the casing not covered with sebaceous material.

Adactylia
Congenital absence of fingers and/or toes.
Synonyms: adactyly, adactylism
Source: WordNet ® 1.7, © 2001 Princeton University

Adermatoglyphia
An extremely rare inherited congenital absence of fingerprints. 

Administrative Review
A review to ensure the organizational procedures of an agency are adhered to, such 
as arrangement and punctuation.

Aggregate
Combining parts to arrive at the whole.  This usually refers to making an identification 
based on the combined information from characteristics in a simultaneous impression.

Alanine
Alanine is the second simplest amino acid and the most common amino acid 
found in proteins, occurring at a rate of approximately 9%.  Since amino 
acids are one of the organic components of eccrine sweat, alanine is often 
used to test latent print chemicals for an amino acid reaction.

Albinus, Weiss Bernhardus Siegfried (February 24, 1697-September 9, 1770)
One of the most well known anatomists of the eighteenth century.  Albinus 
studied in Leyden with Govard Bidloo, among other great medical scientists.  
He is most noted for his attempts at increasing the scientific accuracy of 
anatomical illustrations.

Alias (AKA)
1.  A false name.  2. Another name an individual has used.  (Also Known As)
SWGFAST, Glossary - Consolidated 09-09-03 ver. 1.0
http://www.swgfast.org/Glossary_Consolidated_ver_1.pdf

Altered Fingerprints
See Mutilation.

Alternate Black Powder
Developed by the FBI in the 1990's as an inexpensive and effective means 
of developing friction ridge detail on adhesive surfaces and/or tapes.  
This method is basically mixing normal black powder together with a 50:50 
solution of liquid detergent (or liqui-Nox) and water.  Mix the ingredient 
until it looks like shaving cream and paint it on to the adhesive side of 
tape.  Let it sit for 30-60 seconds and then rinse with tap water.  Repeat 
for better contrast as needed.
Source: FBI Academy, Quantico, VA

Alternate Light Source (ALS)
Any light source, other than a laser, used to excite luminescence of latent 
prints, body fluids, etc., now commonly referred to as a forensic light source.  
SWGFAST, Glossary - Consolidated 09-09-03 ver. 1.0
http://www.swgfast.org/Glossary_Consolidated_ver_1.pdf

Aluminum Chloride
A metal salt used to treat ninhydrin developed latent prints.
SWGFAST, Glossary - Consolidated 09-09-03 ver. 1.0
http://www.swgfast.org/Glossary_Consolidated_ver_1.pdf

Ambient Lighting
A lighting technique where the light is surrounding an object from all sides.

The American System of Fingerprint Classification
A fingerprint classification system developed by Capt. James H. Parke in 1903.

Amicus Brief/Amicus Curiae Brief (pronounced uh-mike-us)
A legal document filed by someone not associated with a case but may have knowledge 
on the subject matter that may be of interest to the courts.  The person submitting 
the brief is known as amici curiae. Amicus briefs are typically filed in appeal cases.

Amici Curiae
Latin for ‘friend of the court’.

Amido Black
Blue-black protein stain used to enhance bloody friction ridge detail.  
See Naphthalene Black.
SWGFAST, Glossary - Consolidated 09-09-03 ver. 1.0
http://www.swgfast.org/Glossary_Consolidated_ver_1.pdf

A dye used to stain the protein present in blood.  
Synonyms: Naphthalene Black; Naphthol Blue Black.

The Water Based Amido Black was developed by John F. Fischer of the 
Forensic Research and Supply Company in Gatha, Florida in 1998.
Source: FBI Academy, Quantico, VA

Amino Acids
One of the organic components in eccrine sweat.  Amino acids are the 
basic structure of protein, protein is a chain of amino acids.  The human 
body uses 20 amino acids to build the various proteins for growth, repair, 
and maintenance of body tissues.

The 20 amino acids the human body uses are: Alanine, Arginine, Asparagine, 
Aspartic acid, Cysteine, Glutamine, Glutamic acid, Glycine, Histidine, Isoleucine, 
Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Proline, Serine, Threonine, 
Tryptophan, Tyrosine, and Valine.  Alanine and glycine seem to be the most 
common amino acids used to test latent print chemicals for an amino acid 
reaction.

Ammonium Chloride
A metal salt used to treat ninhydrin developed latent prints.
SWGFAST, Glossary - Consolidated 09-09-03 ver. 1.0
http://www.swgfast.org/Glossary_Consolidated_ver_1.pdf

Analog
Chemistry. A structural derivative of a parent compound that often differs from it 
by a single element.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=analog 12-26-2005

Analysis
The first step of the ACE-V method. The assessment of an impression to determine 
suitability for comparison.
SWGFAST, Standard Terminology of Friction Ridge Examination 3-23-11 ver. 3.0

Separate anything into its parts; to find out what a thing is made of.  
Quantitative-Qualitative Friction Ridge Analysis, David R. Ashbaugh 1999 CRC Press

Anastomosis (Anastomoses)
The connection of separate parts of a branching system to form a network, as 
of leaf veins, blood vessels, or a river and its branches. 
The American Heritage ® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=anastomoses

Refers to the epidermal connective tissue that grows from a primary ridge to 
a secondary ridge, known as a shunt.  The growth of anastomoses creates dermal 
papillae in the secondary dermal ridges.  

Anhidrosis
A medical condition that reduces or eliminates the ability of the body to sweat.  
Anhidrosis can be caused by a genetic disorder, damage to the skin, or the use of 
certain medications. Additional medical conditions affecting the ability of the 
body to sweat include hypohidrosis and hyperhidrosis.

Anthropometry
Dealing with measurement of the human body.
Quantitative-Qualitative Friction Ridge Analysis, David R. Ashbaugh 1999 CRC Press

Apical
At the apex; situated at the tip of a conical figure; at the tip of a finger.
Quantitative-Qualitative Friction Ridge Analysis, David R. Ashbaugh 1999 CRC Press

Apocrine Gland
A large sweat gland that produces both a fluid and an apocrine secretion; in 
human beings located in hairy regions of the body
WordNet ® 1.6, © 1997 Princeton University
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=apocrine%20gland 02-27-03

Sweat gland opening into the hair follicle.
Quantitative-Qualitative Friction Ridge Analysis, David R. Ashbaugh 1999 CRC Press

A type of skin gland that is associated with the hair follicles.
SWGFAST, Glossary - Consolidated 09-09-03 ver. 1.0
http://www.swgfast.org/Glossary_Consolidated_ver_1.pdf

Large sweat glands with little secretory function and their exact role in humans is 
unclear.  Professor Julian Verbov 12-31-11

Appendage
An attachment or connection within friction ridges.
SWGFAST, Glossary 07-28-2009 ver. 2.0

Any one of various external attached parts, i.e., arms, legs, tails, fins.
Quantitative-Qualitative Friction Ridge Analysis, David R. Ashbaugh 1999 CRC Press

Applied Science
Using a pure science in practical application by scientific method or having a goal.
Examples: 
physics (pure science), engineering (applied science)
mathematics (pure science), statistics (applied science)
dactylography (pure science), fingerprint identification (applied science)

Aqueous
Water based.
SWGFAST, Glossary - Consolidated 09-09-03 ver. 1.0
http://www.swgfast.org/Glossary_Consolidated_ver_1.pdf
 
Arch - plain
A pattern type in which the friction ridges enter on one side of the impression and flow, 
or tend to flow, out the other side with a rise or wave in the center.
SWGFAST, Standard Terminology of Friction Ridge Examination 3-23-11 ver. 3.0

Arch - tented
A pattern type that possesses either an angle, an upthrust, or two of the three basic 
characteristics of the loop.
SWGFAST, Standard Terminology of Friction Ridge Examination 3-23-11 ver. 3.0

Ardrox
Fluorescent yellow dye used with UV light to visualize cyanoacrylate ester 
fumed friction ridge detail.
SWGFAST, Glossary - Consolidated 09-09-03 ver. 1.0
http://www.swgfast.org/Glossary_Consolidated_ver_1.pdf

Art
1. A kind of knowledge that is typically considered nonscientific, the Liberal 
Arts.  Traditionally this kind of knowledge has been considered nonscientific 
because it lacks one or more of the requirements of a science, such as having 
testable observations or being about a natural phenomenon.  Examples: 
Accounting, Economics, and Religion.  Educational institutions have begun 
offering liberal art degrees in areas of study that are typically considered 
scientific (Biology, Mathematics, Psychology).  The BA degree is usually 
general knowledge, and the BS degree is more specialized.
2. A skill, talent, or ability that one can possess innately or by study or 
practice.  This definition of art can apply to an individual involved in the 
liberal arts, the sciences, or any craft, trade or activity. This is not an 
essential requirement for any occupation or activity but is certainly a 
benefit.

Artifact
1. Any distortion or alteration not in the original friction ridge impression, produced 
by an external agent or action.
2. Any information not present in the original object or image, inadvertently introduced 
by image capture, processing, compressions, transmission, display, and printing.
SWGFAST, Standard Terminology of Friction Ridge Examination 3-23-11 ver. 3.0

A structure or feature not normally present but visible as a result of an external 
agent or action.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. 05-25-2004
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=artifact 

Asbury, David
David Asbury was convicted of murder in a 1997 SCRO murder investigation 
based on fingerprint evidence.  The conviction was later overturned but the 
SCRO refused to admit to an erroneous identification.

See Errors.

Ashbaugh, Staff Sergeant David R. (Mar. 11, 1946-present)
Staff Sergeant David Ashbaugh worked for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 
retiring in May of 2004, in addition to being the Director of Ridgeology Consulting 
Services.  He spent over 27 years doing extensive research on the scientific 
basis and identification process of friction ridge identifications.  Among his 
long list of accomplishments he is credited with coining the term Ridgeology 
in 1982 and creating the terms level 1, level 2, and level 3 detail.  He introduced 
the ACE-V methodology to the fingerprint field around 1980 and was a key 
witness for the Daubert Hearings.  He sat on several committee boards and as 
well as serving on the Scientific Working Group on Friction Ridge Analysis, 
Study and Technology.  In addition to publishing many papers on the 
identification process, in 1999 he authored the book “Quantitative-Qualitative 
Friction Ridge Analysis: An Introduction to Basic and Advanced Ridgeology”, 
which has become a fundamental and essential resource for all latent print 
examiners. Staff Sergeant Ashbaugh has received numerous awards and honors 
for his significant contributions to the science of friction ridge identification 
and is recognized as one of the leading experts in his field.

Authority
An accepted source of definitive information.
An expert in a specific field.
Webster's II New Riverside Dictionary, Office Edition.  
Houghton Mifflin Publishing Co.  Copyright 1984, Berkley Addition.

Axiom
In logic: a proposition that is not susceptible of proof or disproof; its 
truth is assumed to be self-evident.
WordNet ® 1.6, © 1997 Princeton University.  02-09-2004

A self-evident principle or one that is accepted as true without proof as the 
basis for argument; a postulate.
The American Heritage ® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.02-09-2004



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