English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am programming an iOS App and I have an alert popup that asks a user to confirm the deletion of a directory. I want to show the following message:

"DIR is not empty!
 Deleting this folder will permanently remove all 

but I cannot think of the proper term for items (files/folders/etc) inside a directory.

I would greatly appreciate any help finding the correct term or phrase for this message.

PostScript: Are "subdirectories" and "subfiles" proper english words?

share|improve this question
"Subdirectories" is proper, or at least, proper enough to suit me. I've certainly seen the word used pretty widely. Contrarily, "subfiles" for some reason, seems strange to me. – heathenJesus Mar 4 '12 at 21:49
up vote 7 down vote accepted

You can write

Deleting this folder will permanently remove all its contents.

share|improve this answer
Drat, ninja'd by Jasper Loy. Definitely agree. "Contents" says it best. – heathenJesus Mar 4 '12 at 21:48
I award +1 for the answer, and a bonus +0.5 for putting the word "its" between "all" and "contents". Unfortunately, I had to round this down :-) – user16269 Mar 4 '12 at 22:02
This is good, but "contents" makes me personally think of the data inside of a single file. I'm not sure, but would this lead users to think they are deleting a file instead of a directory and all of its descendants? – chown Mar 4 '12 at 22:03
Cool, thanks! It's funny how things like this are sometimes the hardest part of programming :). – chown Mar 4 '12 at 22:13

You can't go wrong with

"DIR is not empty!
 Deleting this folder will permanently remove all 
 [files and folders]!"
share|improve this answer
This may be ambiguous; the first thing I thought when I read this is that it could mean removing all files/folders period, not just the ones inside said dir. I appreciate the suggestion but I'm going to go with Jasper's answer. – chown Mar 4 '12 at 22:13
I didn't mean to be so smarmy about it. I totally understand. – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Mar 4 '12 at 23:12

Your Answer


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.