If one circular object A (such as a hair rubber band) has the same radius at rest as another B, but stretches to a larger radius than B is able to, is there a way to say "A is xxxxxer than B"?

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    Not that I know of. "A has a larger radius than B", or "A's radius is larger than B's" (or something like that) is the only way, I think. – mikhailcazi Oct 25 '13 at 14:54
  • Usually, it's just larger. – Andrew Leach Oct 25 '13 at 15:00
  • @AndrewLeach Well, in the rubber band example it's not really larger at all, as both objects have the same mass etc (they are also homeomorphic) .It's just that one sort of extends more in space. – Felix Goldberg Oct 25 '13 at 15:02
  • Oh, you mean stretches to a larger radius? – Andrew Leach Oct 25 '13 at 15:04
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    One further clarification: are you after a word for the capability of being stretched to a larger radius, or for actually being stretched to that larger radius? In other words, when A is at rest, and thus the same size and shape as B, does A still exhibit this property that you are looking for? – John Y Oct 25 '13 at 16:26

Typically, round objects are sized when at rest. (See Amazon's listings for rubber bands as an example.)

To describe an object that expands to a greater radius you would say it has more elasticity or better/larger expansion. This works best when comparing two objects with the same resting size:

Objects A and B are 2.5cm wide but B has more elasticity.

If you need to compare two objects with different resting sizes or need to explicitly note the maximum expansion size you would just use "expands to":

Object A is 2.5cm wide and expands to 4.5cm. Object B is 2cm wide and expands to 5cm.

If you only want to describe which has a larger size once expanded use "expansion", which keys on the definition of "the degree, extent, or amount by which something expands"

Object A has a larger expansion than Object B.

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  • A slightly-informal way to say "has more elasticity" in a single word is stretchier. – Marthaª Nov 3 '15 at 17:10
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    More elasticity is incorrect here. More elasticity means more capability of returning to the original shape/size. It does not mean better/larger expansion. – Drew Feb 20 '16 at 17:16

I don't know of any single word that serves the role you're asking (taking on -er); the closest is probably to say more [whatever], such as more elastic, stretchable, or expandable.

Edit, to take into account comment about actual state, rather than potential: Again, I can't think of an existing word that would take -er and mean what you are looking for. The closest phrasing I can think of with as few words as possible is "A is hyperexpanded relative to B".

I'm not just coining hyperexpanded myself; this word is commonly used to refer to lungs which have expanded beyond normal size. Some care might be needed when using this word with your circular bands, because there is the connotation of abnormality or damage. If I hear someone talking about a hyperexpanded rubber band, I'm going to think the band can't return to its original (undamaged) rest size on its own. That's why I included "relative to B". Still doesn't feel exactly right, but nothing better is coming to me.

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  • You are more correct that hyperexpanded would mean "expanded beyond a safe limit" than it would help note that one thing is greater than another when expanded. – MrHen Oct 25 '13 at 19:19
  • More elastic is incorrect here. More elastic means more capable of returning to the original shape/size. It does not mean more stretchable/expandable. – Drew Feb 20 '16 at 17:15
  • @Drew: In strict physics terms, you are correct. But in everyday lay speech, elastic strongly implies both the stretching and the returning. If something very readily returns to its shape but does not readily stretch, most people don't think of that as elastic, even though strictly it is. Likewise, if something is readily compressible or otherwise deformable, but not readily stretchable, most people don't think of that as elastic either. Merriam-Webster lists your definition first (1a) but most people think of definition 3. – John Y Feb 20 '16 at 17:46
  • @JohnY: Maybe so. But even if true, that doesn't imply that more elastic means stretchable to a greater extent. One might claim that it means more "readily stretchable" (whatever that might mean). The 3rd definition you cite does not suggest anything about the extent of expansion. It speaks only to the ability to be "easily stretched or expanded". – Drew Feb 20 '16 at 18:31
  • @Drew: Lay people do not think or talk like physicists. When normal people hear "more readily stretchable", they may well think either or both of "more easily stretchable" or "stretchable to a greater extent". And indeed, for a lot of real-world substances that lay people are likely to encounter in their daily lives, these properties are correlated anyway. The distinction is all the more fuzzy if you simply use the phrase "more stretchable", which you seem to be saying is what should be used instead of "more elastic". But elastic and stretchable are basically synonymous in lay speech. – John Y Feb 21 '16 at 16:06

It is difficult to get at what you are asking without more context, but for rubber bands, the two main properties people are interested in are elasticity and stretchability.

When stretched there is an "elastic limit" beyond which they will not return to their original shape, and further beyond that is a measurement of "tensile strength" where they break.

I would expect these limits to be described in terms of force rather than radius, but for a catalog etc. it may suffice to simply say "higher stretchability" or make up a term like "stretchability index of 4 inches" etc etc

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