Is there a word/term/phrase that means the designated word to represent a collection of related words?

Dictionaries use a "head" or "root" word for variants (House: >Houses, >Housing, >Housed) - is there such a thing for Synonyms and Word Families?

I've Googled and I've searched here (and Yahoo Answers etc.). I'm not sure if there is such a term.

If there is, can someone please tell me the name? If there is, can someone point to a source (such as a thesaurus that uses it)?

If there is no such term/reference - what would you suggest as a way to implement it?
Should I simply go for the shortest word in the group (with the same/similar part of speech/morphological attributes (mood/gender etc.)? Is there a better way?

Thank you.

  • Here is a bunch of Root words. Probably not exactly what you're thinking of, but there's no reason not to call house a "root word" in your example. The other words in a "family" like yours can reasonably be called derivatives. In most cases, any etymological dictionary should usually make it obvious to you which word in a set is best designated as the "root" (often, but not necessarily, the shortest). Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 14:16
  • Thank you @FumbleFingers - yes, most dictionaries will carry that information. What I'm looking for is for broader/wider word-groups/relations ... such as those of Synonyms (tight/loose), and word-families (associated). If it helps, think of synonyms for "house" : dwelling, abode, domicile etc. Is there a standard that dictates 1 of those synonyms to represent the "collective"? If so, what is the term for such a representative? Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 14:39
  • This is probably a linguistics question. Suggestion: try asking this question and the previous one on linguistics.se and see what kind of responses you get there. Note that linguistics.se is smaller and might take a little longer to get feedback. Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 15:49
  • Regarding your question "what would you suggest as a way to implement it". Implement what? (Is that a software dev question?) Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 15:54
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    @theclueless1: I think we have to skirt carefully round this one. Strictly speaking I think you may be either looking for resources, or asking for feedback regarding a "word categorisation system" you have in mind - both of which would be Off Topic. I don't know any better terms than root word and derivatives for the On Topic aspect of the question, but CoolHandLouis may well be right that taken as a whole your question may be a better fit on linguistics. Certainly it's not exactly getting anywhere here, but I wish you luck with it wherever it ends up. Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 21:39

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