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For example, if I had the sentence: A minutes ______ are seconds. What word would work here? It would also fit in the sentences below.

  • A byte's _____ are bits.
  • A byte is split up by eight ______ called bits.
  • Tom asked "what is the ______ for a yard? Billy answered "A yard's ______ is called a foot."

I think you get the idea of the word (or short phrase) that would work here.

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    I think you are looking for something like "constituent" or "sub-unit" The problem is that a yard might be defined as 3 feet or 36 inches or 91.44 centimeters. So at best you might say that one of a yard's defining units is the foot Really though the idea is that a minute can be defined in terms of seconds or a yard in terms of feet, but the word you seek implies that they can only be defined that way- which is why it doesn't exist.
    – Jim
    Dec 25, 2014 at 6:57
  • I get what you are saying. So would saying "A constituent of seconds are called milliseconds" work? Dec 25, 2014 at 7:01

3 Answers 3

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Subunit is the word that would work here. According to Collins English Dictionary definition of subunit is "A subdivision of a larger unit" or "a distinct part or component of something larger".

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Units.

A byte is split into 8 units, called bits.

The problem with addressing, specifically, only one level down the hierarchy is that it's unclear how far down one level is, especially in the metric system.

A year is broken down into months, yes? But then a month is - weeks? How many? 4.3 or so? It doesn't work perfectly.

A meter goes to centimeters? decimeters? millimeters? It's not consistent.

Anyway, 'unit' is a term that should work for you. 'Child unit' would specify that you want something smaller than the implied 'parent.'

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The base unit of time is the second. In the imperial system, the base unit of length is the foot.

Base Unit: (SI base unit -Wiki)

The Système International d’Unités (SI), or International System of Units, defines seven units of measure as a basic set from which all other SI units are derived.

Unit: (Google)

A unit of measurement is a definite magnitude of a physical quantity, defined and adopted by convention or by law, that is used as a standard for measurement of the same physical quantity. Any other value of the physical quantity can be expressed as a simple multiple of the unit of measurement.

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