Glossary of Fingerprint Terms
Crime Scene Forensics,LLC
FINGERPRINT CLASSIFICATION - the sorting of fingerprints into file groups so that a file may be set
upon the basis of fingerprints alone. Fingerprints are classified by General shape (arch, loop, or
whorl), position in finger, and relative size.
RIDGE CHARACTERISTICS (GALTON'S DETAILS) - Fingerprint ridges are not continuous. They
break and divide and these points are given specific names;
(1) Ridge Ending,
(2) Bifurcation (forking ridge),
(4) Short Ridge,
(5) Enclosure (Island)
*An average rolled inked finger print may contain 125 ridge characteristics.
INKED FINGERPRINT - The intentional recording of the friction ridge skin. Using black printer's ink
and a fingerprint roller, the ridge characteristics of a particular individual, can be formally recorded
on a standard fingerprint card.
LATENT FINGERPRINT - The chance impression, left on an item, through the transfer of
perspiration and oils, from the friction ridge skin to the item itself. At times, this transfer can be visible
to the naked eye. Most often, it is invisible to the eye, and chemicals or powders need to be added to
the surface, in order for the latent print to seen, photographed, and lifted. The word "latent" means
hidden and it is these impressions which require the application of powders of chemicals to make
PATENT (PLASTIC) FINGERPRINT - a reproduction of the ridges of the finger in a medium such as
wet paint, blood, putty, and some soft metals. The is normally visible, however, the impression is
reversed as the ridges are impressed in the material.
SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF FINGERPRINT IDENTIFICATION -
1. The ridge arrangement on every finger of every person is different.
2. The ridge arrangement is permanent throughout the persons life, that is, the ridge
arrangement never changes from birth to death. These statements are true also of the
ridges on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. Identifications in these areas
have the same technical and legal validity as fingerprints.
A.F.I.S. - a computer system that automatically searches a latent fingerprint recovered from a scene,
against millions of fingerprints contained within a fingerprint database. The criteria for entering and
maintaining fingerprints in the database varies from state to state.
DISSIMILARITY – a difference in which, in the opinion of the examiner, can be explained.
DISCREPANCY – a difference between two patterns, that can not be explained.
DACTYLOGRAPHY - the study of the science of fingerprints
CORE - is the approximate center of the finger pattern impression
INDIVIDUALIZATION - the opinion matching of a latent print to one person as its source to the
exclusion of all other people in the world.
CLASS ONE/LEVEL ONE DETAIL - the general ridge flow of a fingerprint.
CLASS TWO/LEVEL TWO DETAIL - aspects of a particular ridge path, including bifurcations,
endings, divisions; also referred to as minutiae or Galton's details.
CLASS THREE/LEVEL THREE DETAIL- finer detail concerning individual ridges, such as the shape
of the edges, their width, and the presence of pores.
ACE-V - an acronym for Analysis, Comparison, Evaluation, Verification. ACE-V describes the
recommended process or methodology for comparison of a latent print to a known print.
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