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We are writing a program to add a “matte” around an image but the developers aren't sure whether to name the method matte or mat.

The Oxford American dictionary has mat as an alternative spelling of matte.

In this case, we think mat is less ambiguous because matte when referring to a color could mean either the glossiness of the color or to its purpose as a framing element.

Any advice?

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The Adobe program Photoshop uses the term "matte." –  JLG Aug 24 '12 at 19:39
    
Down voting because the basic premise of the question is faulty. It's not for the English language to resolve confusion between different senses of these words. You should be using neither word for the purpose of what goes around an image in the context of programming. –  Kris Aug 25 '12 at 9:07

2 Answers 2

Why not call it a frame or border instead?

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Up votes?! I thought the Q. is 'mat' vs. 'matte', not alternatives. –  Kris Aug 25 '12 at 9:03

There is no ambiguity. You cannot have a matte-vs-glossy color, because shininess isn’t something you can specify in RGB or HSV. Go ahead, try printing a shiny gold instead of a matte yellow. Won’t happen. It takes incredibly special printing processes to do that. Or gold leaf.

And even if there were an ambiguity, this still would be no problem. People can tell the difference. The frame is the matte, as you said yourself. No one will know what you are talking about if you said mat.

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1  
The frame is also called the mat, quite often. It's just a mess. –  Mark Beadles Aug 24 '12 at 20:25
    
@MarkBeadles Is this like a bath mat or a gym mat, then? –  tchrist Aug 24 '12 at 20:48
    
@MarkBeadles I though those were called mattes, as they are with this matte-cutting knife. –  tchrist Aug 24 '12 at 21:06
    
Like I said, the spelling is a mess. On the plus side, "matting" is correct no matter how you spell the root :) –  Mark Beadles Aug 24 '12 at 23:41
    
@MarkBeadles Now, don't even tell us about 'matter'. :) –  Kris Aug 25 '12 at 9:05

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