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In division, we have a dividend and a divisor.

According to this page, we also have

  • minuend and subtrahend
  • augend and addend
  • multiplicand and multiplier

which are rarely used because order doesn't matter for the latter two.

Is there a term for the "second" number in any arithmetic operation? It would be a word that could mean "subtrahend," or "addend," or "multiplier" interchangeably. Something like "mathematicaloperationend."

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    "Operand" is used to refer to any of the inputs to an operator. So "second operand" might work for you. Sometimes "parameter" or "argument" are used similarly, usually with reference to functions.
    – augurar
    May 21, 2014 at 1:10
  • Isn't it just secondary? Primary, secondary, tertiary, ... n-ary. Also, isn't that just math? May 21, 2014 at 1:30
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    My question is not answered there. The asker there settled for different terms for addition, subtraction and multiplication. I want a term that applies to the "second" number in any arithmetic operation. "Second operand" could work but I was hoping for a single word. May 21, 2014 at 2:25
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    We'll see what they say: math.stackexchange.com/questions/803844 May 21, 2014 at 8:24

3 Answers 3

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In computing, LHS and RHS are sometimes used to mean the expressions on the left and right hand side of an operator.

Similarly, LValue and RValue are sometimes used for the expressions on the left and right hand side of an assignment operator (in particular because this places restrictions on the type of the lvalue, as it must be something that can be assigned to), but this is more specific to computing than to mathematics or other uses of such operators.

which are rarely used because order doesn't matter for those operations.

This is an influencing factor. All the terms you give in your question predate the formalising of the commutative property, which happened soon into the study of functions. As such, at about the same time that people first started to potentially care about grouping together the multiplier and the addend and so on, they also realised that they often don't care.

Also, why linguistically favour a given operand of an operator over a given term of an expression, when all single-operator expressions can be considered as a case of the wider set of expressions?

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  • "why linguistically favour a given operand of an operator" I am writing a calculator application in which the user inputs an addend/subtrahend and then evaluates an operation by choosing an operator. (The augend/minuend is the current running total.) I was looking for a word to describe the inputted addend/subtrahend (whichever it might be). May 27, 2014 at 23:52
  • Well, of course operand would be correct and relevant. You might also be able to adjust according to the operand selected depending on how the UI works.
    – Jon Hanna
    May 27, 2014 at 23:55
  • Using "left-hand side" and "right-hand side", or their initialisms LHS and RHS, is a bad idea, because they are already in use in mathematics to mean the two sides of a relation (equality or inequality), and in computing to mean the two sides of an assignment.
    – Rosie F
    Sep 16, 2022 at 4:58
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One usually says "The nth term of equation 1", e.t.c. The second term is thus "The second term of equation 1".

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  • An expression is not an equation, and a term may not necessarily be an operand.
    – Jon Hanna
    May 27, 2014 at 14:25
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Probably to everyone's dismay I have decided to use "loperand" and "roperand" as-suggested-by David H here.

While "operand" is probably the best "real" word suggested thus far, it is not specific enough. And it appears there is no single term to describe a left or right operand irrespective of its operator.

I also happen to enjoy pronouncing "loperand" and "roperand".

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    I may or may not despair depending on just where you were using it. If I was collaborating with you on the application I would not despair at seeing that in the source code, though I might have doubts if it was in the UI.
    – Jon Hanna
    May 28, 2014 at 23:34

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