primary, secondary, tertiary, quaternary, quinary, senary, septenary, octonary, nonary, denary, duodenary, etc.

are ordinal numbers as answered in this question. However, I'm looking for a word/phrase that refers to these terms in general, as in the following sentence:

Are there any secondary or word_or_phrase equity offering from this company?

Currently I'm considering replacing word_or_phrase with higher-order, higher-tier or n-ary, with the intended meaning of "from tertiary onwards".

Any help will be much appreciated.

  • An ellipsis could be used: 'Are there any secondary, tertiary, quaternary, ... equity offerings from this company?' Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 22:30
  • 2
    Personally I'd go with higher order, or perhaps higher rank depending on context.
    – tobyink
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 23:04
  • Note that in some cases (to wit: see David's answer) you can simply say "higher".
    – Fattie
    Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 10:04
  • "Supersecondary", "better"
    – SAH
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 21:54
  • subsidiary {as an adjective, pronounced without the imaginary 'r' after the second 'i', which is how I often here the business term (the noun) pronounced}
    – Mazura
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 2:18

4 Answers 4


When employing ordinal numbers you are explaining a relationship between items in a set. The term you use to describe those numbers will largely depend upon the items in the set.

For example: Primary care vs. Tertiary care. You would describe these levels as tiers. Hence, if there were quaternary care, etc. you would describe this as higher-tier.

If you are speaking of classes: First class, second class, etc. You would call these higher classed (and of course these would typically go in reverse order first being highest).

If you are speaking of orders: Tertiary, Quaternary, etc. You would call these higher-ordered.

And, in any case, if you wish to describe a portion of a set, you would typically define your terms: e.g. Higher-ordered thingamajigs (Quaternary and beyond).

Of course, given that order is within the base definition and etymology of ordinal, I would say high(er)-order is always superficially correct.

  • 1
    It's strange someone marked this down - this is the correct answer here. The answer depends on the category of thing.
    – Fattie
    Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 10:03
  • 1
    just forgot ! :)
    – Fattie
    Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 13:55
  • 1
    I have no idea why anyone would mark this down. I find users baffling at times. +1 Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 2:57

I have seen N-ary used in this way in a variety of publications.

  • 2
    In my experience, n-ary is usually the generalisation of the sequence "unary, binary, ternary..." (arity) rather than "primary, secondary, tertiary...".
    – tobyink
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 22:59
  • In addition to the comment above, n-ary doesn't sound quite right in that sentence where I want to use the word... :(
    – Herr K.
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 23:29
  • 2
    Apart from what toby said: N-ary does not at all particularly suggest higher order items, it suggests "any", um, N-ary items.
    – Fattie
    Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 10:00
  • The original poster did not ask for something that suggests higher order terms, but to describe an unspecified higher order term.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 17:13

The term you want is "higher-arity" or "higher-adicity."

"Arity" and "adicity" are real words meaning exactly what you are looking for. Please see here and here.

(Note that the second article suggests "grade", "valency," and "degree" might also work.)

Related: Is there a word like cardinal or ordinal but for the “single, double, triple” series?


I feel that tertiary, etc are of lower tier than primary, not a higher tier.

The first word to come to my mind is derivative. Orange is a derivative of red and yellow. But derivative has its own meaning in business and finance, so it may be confusing in that sentence.

Another take is based on funding round terminology. Class A, Class B, etc. If timing plays a role in which equity offerings are available, then you could use "...and further".

  • Tertiary care center ... Higher tier than a primary care center. Lower tier does not always apply. It depends upon context.
    – David M
    Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 5:29
  • 1
    I hadn't thought of that. First-degree burn vs. first-degree murder, different ends of their spectrums.
    – 000
    Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 5:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.