I have found this source a little useful, but I am unsure what the correct term for a collection of thirty-two things is. Sextet, octet, dectet etc. are the terms for 6, 8, 10 etc. The "prefix form" of 32 is "duotrige" and the "base name" is "duotrigesimal". Is the term I am looking for duotriget, duotrigeset, duotrigectet, duotrigestet or something else?

I imagine the rule will be the same with every number over twenty, so if you know the correct term for a group of twenty things or whatever please answer with that.

Update: after realising that there is no precisely "correct" way of forming such a word, the nature of my enquiry has changed: given I'm going to have to coin a term myself, what would be the best semi-regular term? (of course there is no definite correct answer to this question)

  • 3
    Correct in what sense? One could construct such a word from the Greek, but if no one understands what it means then it's not very useful. – augurar Sep 7 '14 at 6:44
  • It's also worth noting that the "-tet" words are used primarily for groups of musicians. A group of three things in general is a "triad", not a "trio". – augurar Sep 7 '14 at 6:47
  • @augurar Constructing such a word from Greek would not be conventional; constructing such a word from Latin would, however esoteric. My specific use case is in naming a collection of 32 bits. 8 is an "octet", 16 is a "hexadectet" (see for example here, section 4), so what is the most logical and natural nomenclature for 32? (Or 64 for that matter, which will naturally follow an identical pattern)? – R160K Sep 7 '14 at 7:17
  • @augurar I've taken the liberty of snaffling your first comment for possible future use. Though I might replace 'word' with 'pseudoword'. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 7 '14 at 8:45
  • @R160K With the context given in your comment below, I’d say just go for duotrictet or duotriget from augurar’s answer. It’s short and simple, and it is at least arguably well-formed. There are so many complicating factors in forming these words that you could have at least half a dozen forms that could be considered equally correct—the only way to really judge which is best is which works the best and sounds the best. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 7 '14 at 9:11

Computer scientists use "tuple". This can be qualified with a numeral, as in "32–tuple". Depending on the audience, of course, a usage like this is easily understood -- I suspect more easily understood than the tortured Latin forms we've been discussing so far.

  • I think "tuple" for a group of bits is fairly uncommon. – augurar Sep 8 '14 at 4:45
  • I agree, but I think he was asking for the latinized tuple, I was just searching for the same, and had centered on trideciduotouble, but was concerned that might be confused as 36, and thought maybe it should be dotridecatuple, on reading above I went with the latter. – Ben Personick Nov 11 '19 at 22:05

The most logical, natural scrutable and downright useful would, not too surprisingly, be something like

  • Group of thirtytwo

  • Set of thirtytwo

  • .... or similar.

To construct a term based on rules which apply somewhat loosely at best to small sized groupings risks the result being essentially incomprehensible to the large majority of people.

While current accepted terms may appear to be systematically based this is not necessarily the case, and common usage may play a significant part. Historical accounts of the evolution of computing systems have reported that when IBM introduced 16 bit systems to its product line that they rejected "sexadecimal" and accepted "hexadecimal" as the term for 16 bit arithmetic because the inclusion of "sex" in the name was thought liable to 'cause problems'.

Names like duotrigectet are liable to be unfathomable to all but the most learned or pedantic. While some may be able to winkle out the meaning from the roots used most would get it wrong or lose interest.

If you have a well founded reason for needing or wanting a systematic nomenclature you should provide it so that people answering are able to address it more accurately.

Sexadecimal, Hexadecimal and IBM:

Griskn asks

I suspect that at least in part "sexadecimal" wasn't chosen to avoid confusion with "sexagesimal". Do you have links for the historical accounts?

There are lots of such claims on the web. That's no proof, but much smoke suggests the possibility of fire. A few examples:


  • Says: Note: As an interesting “sidebar”, the term hexadecimal was not the first one used for base-16 numbers in computing. Originally, these were called sexadecimal numbers. This is actually the correct term, since Latin prefixes (sexa-) are normally used for numbers, not Greek ones (hexa-). However, in the early 1950s, IBM decided that the word “sexadecimal” was just a little too “provocative” for their tastes, so they changed it to hexadecimal. IBM being IBM—especially back then—meant everyone else followed suit. As I understand it, neither term is etymologically perfect, but well, this note is long enough already. J

Similar: http://foldoc.org/hexadecimal

IBM story: http://daddybob.com/archives/qa060827.htm

In a book ...IBM ... - so must be true :-)

The story gets round

  • 在20世纪50年代早期,IBM决定sexadecimal 有点太刺激,不对他们的口味,所以他们将其改为hexadecimal .IBM 就是IBM,特别是在那个时代,每个人都要服从IBM的规定。

  • aka: In the early 1950s, IBM decided sexadecimal little too exciting, not to their taste, so they changed it to hexadecimal .IBM is IBM, especially at that age, everyone must obey the provisions of IBM.

  • I wasn't necessarily looking for the absolute most lucid term (although I wasn't perhaps specific about my usage need in the question). I am writing a small program intended for personal use and was looking for a word for my own use to use as a menu item option for displaying bits in spaced blocks. I began with the impression there might be a regular way of forming such a word, but realise now there isn't and so am going to have to decisively coin a term - my task now is to pick the best semi-regular. – R160K Sep 7 '14 at 8:55
  • I suspect that at least in part "sexadecimal" wasn't chosen to avoid confusion with "sexagesimal". Do you have links for the historical accounts? – Grimxn Sep 7 '14 at 10:21

Based on the linked source, it seems like the most reasonable term would be "duotriget", "duotricet", or "duotercet". However, neither these nor any of the terms you suggested appear on Google, which indicates that you would be coining a new word here.

See also this StackOverflow question.

  • I would say that the most logical would be duotrictet, based on the source mentioned in the question, though if etymology were to play any role, it should be duotricensimet or duotricen(s)tet. Needless to say, neither of these forms gives any hits in Google. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 7 '14 at 8:12
  • @JanusBahsJacquet What is the reasoning behind your latter two suggestions? – augurar Sep 7 '14 at 8:25
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    The fact that the -et words are ultimately Latinised versions of Italian diminutives in -etto of the ordinal numbers. The first of the two t’s belongs to the ordinal stem (in the numbers from 1 to 10), and the ordinal of trīgintā is trīcē(n)simus. Since the ending -tet has become somewhat productive and added to ordinals that never had a t, though, just taking the stem of the ordinal (apparently without the superlative -imus ending, if dectet is anything to go by) would give something like tricenstet or tricestet. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 7 '14 at 8:42

After realising there was no exact formal way of forming such a word, and taking both semi-regularity and euphony into account, the term I opted to use was "duotrictet".

For 64-bits, I have opted for tetrahectets (using the Greek rather than the Latin in line with IBM's "hexadecimal" instead of "sexadecimal"), however a more logical one might have been quatrosexactets, which includes the words sex act and is less euphonic to say.


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