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

In the context of a math paper, I want to talk about the individual hexagonal parts of a honeycomb. "cells" can be ambiguous and "hexagonal prisms" is technically incorrect (the back of the cavity is angled outward). "Repeating component part" is wordy and vague. Is there a common phrase or word typically used for this?

share|improve this question
Why would "cell" be ambiguous within the context of that paper? That's what the units are almost always called. – Mark Beadles Jan 13 '13 at 3:13
Because "cell" is also used for the component parts of a tissue, and I really want to avoid confusion or even momentary hesitation. – WindowsEscapist Jan 13 '13 at 3:16
Are you also discussing tissue in this paper? If not, why not "honeycomb cell" at first use and "cell" thereafter? – Mark Beadles Jan 13 '13 at 3:17
I am not also discussing tissue in this paper, but I am referring to the cells in a very brief introduction that I probably won't repeat the phrase in. Thank you for your attention. – WindowsEscapist Jan 13 '13 at 3:28
@WindowsEscapist: "Tissue" has more than one meaning, too, but that didn't confuse anyone when you used it in your remark. Avoiding words with multiple meanings seems like an unnecessary self-imposed restriction, especially if you'll end up using more unusual words instead of standard terminology. – J.R. Jan 13 '13 at 4:03
up vote 3 down vote accepted

If you are willing to overlook 'technicality' a bit, hexagonal wax cells would fit in perfectly.

share|improve this answer
This strikes the balance between specificity and conciseness. Thank you. – WindowsEscapist Jan 13 '13 at 3:27

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.