I'm looking for a word that would carry the same connotation as "Private Realm." If you can think of a good word, you can skip the rest of this.


I'm working on some architectural projects where I'm contrasting publicly visible and accessible space (whether publicly owned or not) and private space not visible or accessible to the general public.

I've decided to call the public space "Interface" -- people seem to understand this and they don't get sidetracked arguing about whether privately owned plazas etc. are "public".

I'd like to pair Interface with a single word that indicates private space, places that are not necessarily intimate but are simply not public. Basically I'm describing the difference between a front yard and the living room in a house. The front yard can be described as interface -- it's a public space (privately owned), and also a connection between the public realm and the private realm. The living room is private space. If someone walked through your front yard it wouldn't be a big deal -- if someone just walked into your living room it would be a big deal. See the difference?

It would also be fine with me to coin a new word as long as it sounds good next to "Interface" and as long as it doesn't trigger negative associations.

  • 1
    I don't know if this helps, but legally, a piece of private property open to the public/other people for certain purposes is called an "easement" (or other related words such as "encumbrance", "servitude"). So you might want to keep it simple and stick to "public property and easements" vs "private property". Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 3:50
  • I'm with Neil. I'm sure people have asked this question a thousand times before, so it would be good to find the most common names. "Easement" sounds professional to me :) Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 4:38
  • 1
    Well, except that in the world of professional architecture / urban planning an Easement is a very specific kind of thing, and it's only one part of the Interface. I'd be up for any word that wasn't already attached to a specific legal meaning in the world of buildings :)
    – Andrew
    Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 4:50

9 Answers 9


"would also be fine with me to coin a new word". My friend is a grad student in architecture. He tells me that both students and teachers pride themselves on making up words that no one notices were just made up. lol, so my suggestion is to make something up. Maybe innercore.

Maybe just core. although not made up, it would contradict Interface well.

Things that flow well in conversation (with Interface).

  • Personal Space (though not one word)
  • Control or Controlled Space (from Andrews comments)
  • Innerspace (as suggested by Matt)
  • Intraspace (as suggested by Andrew)

But personally I like core best.

  • Yeah, after mulling this over a long time I think "core" is probably the best overall word.
    – Andrew
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 14:19
  • awesome, glad to be of help.
    – logicbird
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 20:08

A little bit of an archaic flavor, but how do you feel about "demesne"?

  • 1
    I would have given this +1 but (a) then it would be ahead of my answer, can't have that, and (b) it sounds too much like "domain". (See "domain, master of".) Commented Apr 15, 2011 at 2:21
  • 1
    @Malvolio: It probably isn't a word in everybody's vocabulary, so some explaining would be required if you used it in a context with a large audience. So that is a downside. Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 0:09
  • @dmckee -- That's not entirely a downside. I like to revive rusty but useful old words. It's kind of like restoring a classic automobile. The problem with "demesne" is pronunciation. Pronounce it naturally and you get "duh-meezny"; pronounce it correctly and you get "domain". Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 0:22
  • Great word, I think I first encountered it in a Stephen King book.
    – Uticensis
    Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 0:47
  • @Malvolio ...You could abuse the pronunciation a bit and say "deh-men." A lot of people (Americans at least) will take anything "European" at face-value, that is, as high quality...Apparently, according to Merriam-Webster, it can also be pronounced like "demean." I did not know this....Still, I'm not sure that this word totally fits...I've never associated "desmesne" with privacy. It's just a synonym for "domain," no?
    – kitukwfyer
    Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 0:55

This is a long shot, but how about "sanctuary?"

Granted, it would be a rather poetic use of the word, but to be honest, "interface" seems just as poetic to me.

  • 1
    You know, I actually thought about "sanctum" or something like that... Something along those lines is definitely a candidate as long as I can make it not carry a religious connotation.
    – Andrew
    Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 4:52
  • @Andrew It might be just me/my area, but "sanctuary" tends to just mean a safe place, and that's what most people I know would assume hearing it. A "wild-life sanctuary" is just a safe place for animals...It would be understood if used in the religious sense, but that use seems to be far less common than the "safe place" use.
    – kitukwfyer
    Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 18:12
  • Similarly, sanctum could fit the same niche
    – mfg
    Commented Apr 15, 2011 at 20:33

"Innerspace?" At least it's a good movie...

  • :) This kind of works... it sounds funny to me but I'm going to try it out a few times and see if I can get used to it...
    – Andrew
    Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 4:51
  • You know what just occurred to me... Interface and Intraface. Inter and Intra are established opposites... or maybe Interspace and Intraspace... Now if I can only make it not too sci-fi sounding...
    – Andrew
    Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 4:54

"Boudoir"? "Lair"? "Snuggery"? "Warren"? "Refuge"? "Haven"? "Harborage"? "Roost"?


To contrapose "interface" I would suggest "cache"; "core" flows nicely from the same computer metaphor as the place where processing happens as opposed to where input is received.

If interface is where input is submitted, the kernel is how it's received (and communicated to processing mechanisms). You could use call gate to refer to the door.

from Wikipedia's page on Kernel

  • You know I actually like the idea of referring to it as Kernel... again let me percolate on it :)
    – Andrew
    Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 3:51
  • @and but don't forget audiences; the room you present to might just be thinking of corn :)
    – mfg
    Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 12:19


1. The innermost parts of a building, especially the sanctuary of a temple. 2. The most private or secret parts; recesses: the penetralia of the soul.

Though I am unclear of the architectural style, It sounds both mysterious and modernistic -ergo "Interface" next to "Penetralia" or IP


It all depends on how you want to do the word building in English.

Sunder means apart, different(ly), private, separate, special and readily compounds with other words. In OE and ME many compounds were found with it, such sunderland — private land. (Sunderland is now often seen as a surname.)

sunderspace - separate, private space
sunderroom - separate, private room
sunderyard - separate, private yard


On the one hand, it is common to call such an area (as distinct from public) in the most easy to understand designation of just plain private. This can be seen in many places.

One alternative would be den, once again easily interpreted as a 'personal space' in most contexts.

When the stress is on the fact that it is a question of privileges, so that only an individual or a group has access rights or control of the area, perhaps a suitable word would be domain.

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.