What is a good word for describing an entity (usually in a sports event) that can consist of one or more players?

The idea is to give a name to a class (in code) for such a group (or player) within a game.

  • 3
    An option is to go with team, and allow teams to have one player. Not a language-based approach, but software-design-wise, this has many advantages. You need no distinction between singles and doubles games in sports like tennis, you can assign teams to your competition planning before the players are known, and you don't need different logic for sports with competing teams or sports with competing individuals.
    – oerkelens
    Feb 1, 2015 at 12:26
  • 1
    One number-neutral term you might use is participant, which may refer to an individual entered in a competition or to team so entered. Another option is competitor, although it isn't as unweighted a descriptive term as participant.
    – Sven Yargs
    Feb 1, 2015 at 18:40

5 Answers 5


In some contexts it doesn't sound as natural as team, but side fits.

In this game there are three sides.


Each side has one or two players.


Each side tries to keep the other sides from collecting the erychronolite before the magnum-sploty awakes.

But as oerkelens says, if you're naming a class in code, I should think team would be better, since it's not as ambiguous a word as side.



The American Heritage Dictionary says

  1. One that opposes another or others, as in a battle, contest, or debate: a political opponent.
  • 1
    It's not necessarily the opponent. It could be the "home" team/player as well. Feb 1, 2015 at 12:07
  • 1
    They are all opponents :-)
    – user63230
    Feb 1, 2015 at 12:07
  • @and256 - All for one and one for all! ...and every man for himself..! :-) Feb 1, 2015 at 15:17

SQUAD noun [plural noun: squads]: a small group of people having a particular task. "an assassination squad"

synonyms: team, crew, gang, band, cell, body, mob, outfit, force "an assassination squad"

•a small number of soldiers assembled for drill or assigned to some special task, especially an infantry unit forming part of a platoon.

synonyms: detachment, detail, unit, platoon, battery, troop, patrol, squadron, cadre, commando, tiger team "an elite reconnaissance squad"

a group of sports players or competitors from which a team is chosen. "eleven first-string players on the Nebraska squad"


  • 2
    A one-man squad sounds just as bad to me as a one-man team, and for sports events, team is a much better word in general than squad. Feb 1, 2015 at 14:15
  • +1 @Peter Shor - how generous of you to share your perspicacity with me. You should post your "team" suggestion. :-)
    – user98990
    Feb 1, 2015 at 18:14

Could Challenger work? I could see that as a single player, but also a team, although the definition doesn't completely fit.


Although an entry (or entrant) might usually imply a single contestant, in at least one sport (that of kings) it can mean more than one (6th one down under the Es).

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