What is a word that means "parts of a whole" and implies it can be combined with others of the same word to build something greater?

For example "blocks", "bricks", and "pieces" are examples I thought of. They are decent because they are abstract or general enough to refer to many different things that may be "pieces of a whole". I am looking for other words that are also general, and clearly communicate that they are an object alone, but can be assembled into something greater.

  • Good advice ermanen, thanks for taking the time to write it. Will update the answer accordingly. – Donny P Jun 6 '14 at 22:04
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    "Part" is what you're looking for. – TylerH Jun 6 '14 at 22:35
  • Please clarify what single answer would satisfy the question. StackExchange is for questions that have exactly one correct answer. – bignose Jun 7 '14 at 3:22
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    I'm a fan of "moiety" – Bandrami Jun 8 '14 at 10:31

constituent (n)

one of the parts that form something

It is used as an adjective also:

serving to form, compose, or make up a unit or whole : component < constituent parts >

Its synonyms component and integral can be used also depending on the context.

Note: Integral is a bit tricky though. As a noun, it means the whole; but as an adjective, it has the connotation of the part of a whole. It is usually used with part.

of or belonging as an essential part of the whole; necessary to completeness; constituent: an integral part.

You also asked for "an object alone, but can be assembled into something greater."

Thus, I'm going to say synergistic element. Because synergy is:

the interaction of multiple elements in a system to produce an effect different from or greater than the sum of their individual effects.

  • Like, one of the parts that form sentences. – John Lawler Jun 6 '14 at 19:56

Try Component or Components

As in "component parts"

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    Hi Jon, 'component' looks fine but it is already mentioned in the answer posted by 'ermanem'. – user66974 Jun 6 '14 at 20:57
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    @Josh61- There, component was used in a definition supporting constituent as an answer, not offered as a answer outright. I think Jon's answer is fine. – Jim Jun 6 '14 at 21:28

I would call them building blocks or units.

a basic unit from which something is built up.


Try 'element' :

element (plural elements)

"One of the simplest or essential parts or principles of which anything consists, or upon which the constitution or fundamental powers of anything are based."



"Cog", as in a cog in a machine.

Not as naturally general as "part", but still has connotations that it is an object that is part of a greater thing, and the term is often used metaphorically.


The word accretion an added part; addition and can be used for organic or inorganic growth/enlargement to form a whole concept or thing


You already have the noun “part”. It carries the connotations of “can be combined with other [parts] to build something greater”.


Set members may be a term close to filling the need you described.


How about a fragment?

a small part broken off or separated from something.
"small fragments of pottery"

  • This adds to or slightly shifts the meaning, Bloodcount. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 7 '14 at 12:23

protected by Jim Jun 8 '14 at 3:33

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