Does the English language have a hypernym for words like "pair", "triad", "tetrad", and "pentad"? I'm not sure where to look.

  • 5
    It could be a set. – Alex B. May 16 '14 at 2:02
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    I hope beyond hope that the answer is n-ads. – Oso May 16 '14 at 19:07
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    "Group". There is no higher concept in the original set aside from the number of members. Once you abstract that away, all you have is a collection. – Oldcat May 16 '14 at 19:09
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    Note that the first element in this sequence is not a pair, but a dyad. (Although this is orthogonal to the question of names for these things.) – Peter Shor Mar 24 '16 at 19:27
  • polyad is the word used to define any number of relationships – Carl Sep 13 '17 at 1:36

I believe these are all examples of cardinal quantifiers

cardinal numbers, or cardinals for short, are a generalization of the natural numbers used to measure the cardinality (size) of sets. [Wikipedia]

Quantifier: (n) an expression that indicates the scope of a term to which it is attached. [OED]

So, given a pair, triad, tetrad, etc., each is defined by its cardinal attributes (2, 3, 4, n) along with an identifiable and consistent expression regarding the property of each number.

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Mathematicians and computer scientists sometimes use the word tuple or the construct n-tuple (e.g., 2-tuple, 3-tuple, etc.).  (This is derived/generalized from words like “double”, “triple”, “quadruple”, “quintuple” and “sextuple”.)  This differs from pair, triad, etc., and the other suggestions (set, group, collection, etc.) in that tuple implies that order is significant.  For example, [red, green, blue] is not the same 3-tuple as [blue, green, red].

I don’t know whether this would be understood by somebody not in one of the above fields.  (I’m not even sure how well it is known within those fields.)

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If I needed a name I would call such nouns "group names for numbers".

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I was looking for an answer to the same question. The only thing I discovered was that beyond pentad, we have hexad, heptad, ogdoad, ennead and decad. They are Greek cardinal prefixes but I could not find any collective term for them beyond this. I suggest we invent the word 'cardinads'!

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