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I'm looking for a noun to use in place of "comparable object," which would make sense in the following context:

Four "comparable objects" were ranked based on their performance in a recent comparison.

I keep thinking of the word "competitor," but I'm not satisfied with it, which made me think of the following analogy:

competitor : competition :: ??? : comparison
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I bet Boob didn't see your python coming, LOL – RiMMER May 25 '11 at 23:00
In English, I can't think of one. In programming-speak, "comparand", by analogy with "operand". :-) – Monica Cellio May 25 '11 at 23:15
Comparable is an acceptable English word but it does imply that they are roughly equivalent - eg "the Mercedes and BMW have comparable running costs". – mgb May 25 '11 at 23:32
@Martin +1 for comparable. In many computer languages the name of the interface to implement when you need to develop a compareTo method is named precisely comparable - for instance class stuff implements comparable. Therefore each of the compared object is a "Comparable". That's the correct answer IMO. – Alain Pannetier Φ May 25 '11 at 23:42
Comparable is an adjective; has it become a noun too? – Monica Cellio May 26 '11 at 0:41
up vote 16 down vote accepted

the word you're looking for is comparate

Com"pa*rate\, n. [L. comparatum, fr. comparatus, p. p. of comparare. See 1st Compare.] (Logic) One of two things compared together.

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this sounds like the best option to me so far ... – RiMMER May 30 '11 at 10:45
Definitely the best. You're a legend, pageman! – Thursagen May 31 '11 at 1:04
@RiMMer @Third thanks for the votes of confidence :) – Paul Amerigo Pajo May 31 '11 at 11:17
  • alternatives
  • candidates
  • contenders
  • considerations

Four alternatives were ranked based on their appropriateness in the above sentence :)

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My issue with "alternatives" and "candidates" is that they imply that one object is "correct" and all the rest are "wrong." "Considerations" are how, or perhaps why, you judge something, not so much the entities of your comparison. Upvote for contenders, although colloquially, I struggle to apply it to inanimate objects. – Dolph May 26 '11 at 13:10
+1 for contenders. If it were me though I'd just say: "Four things were ranked based on their performance in a recent comparison." – boehj May 28 '11 at 14:02
Or "Four items (...)". Something like "analogous items/entities" also came to my mind. Knowing a little more of the nature of the entity being compared could help. – Maria C. May 31 '11 at 17:40


Representative (members) (of the class)? e.g. Consumer Reports looked at these four representative small cars.

Candidates? I know you don't like the implication that there is one best candidate, so this depends on context -- that applies to elections more than to which restaurant you're going to dine at tonight.

From the discussion in comments, "comparables" would work if it's not too geeky for your context. I would personally hesitate to use it in general discourse.

Edited to add: also from the comments, "comparand" by analogy with "operand", if your audience would grok that.

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I'm voting this up for comparand (which is what immediately came to my mind when I saw the question). There is plenty of programming precedent. Also, besides operand, one might look to dividend as a model (and reject comparator, which is closest to divisor). I don't really have much defense against comparate, with @pageman's killer citation, beyond "It just doesn't sound/look/feel as good as comparand". – John Y Jun 2 '11 at 22:06

I'm pretty confident the word you're looking for is comparee. A comparee should be "that which is being compared", just as an employee is "that who is being employed".

It goes on to a comparer: that which compares, just as an employer: that who employs.

If anyone speaks latin here, maybe they could also share a latin word for this?

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Options seems to be the most flexible and functional, and works in the sentence.

It's mildly awkward, however. I suspect the actual noun -- printers, trucks, lighthouses, coffeemakers -- is usually used in such a sentence for that very reason.

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You may be looking for comparator, and it may be why your brain keeps giving you competitor, because they sound somewhat similar.

From NOAD:

comparator |kəmˈparətər| noun a device for comparing a measurable property or thing with a reference or standard. • an electronic circuit for comparing two electrical signals. • something used as a standard for comparison.

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The comparator performs the comparison; it isn't a thing being compared. – Monica Cellio May 26 '11 at 0:41
@Monica Cellio That's not quite right. The comparator is the standard that others are compared to, but it doesn't actually perform the comparison. – Kit Z. Fox May 28 '11 at 1:27
@Kit, it does mean that the answer doesn't answer the qeustion. – Thursagen May 28 '11 at 8:08
@Kit: in a programming context a comparator usually does perform the comparison (between two values, one of which may be "this" in OOP). In what contexts is the comparator the yardstick? – Monica Cellio May 29 '11 at 2:22
In Portal 2, there is a device that accepts or discards sentry units by comparing them with a known correct sentry. By the first definition, the device is the comparator. By the third, the reference sentry is the comparator. By none of the three definitions can the sentry being checked be the comparator. – Stuart P. Bentley Jun 2 '11 at 16:26

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