Assume for a moment that a large group of people believe that film noir and neo-noir are mutually exclusive film categories. For example, if Chinatown (1974) is to be considered neo-noir (made after the classic 1940-1959 era, in color, etc.) then it is by their strict definition NOT [classic] “film noir”. (Maybe they worked in video stores and a movie had to go in one section or the other.)

But another group feels that “film noir” is a right and proper term for both categories of movies, but “neo-noir” only works with the one. The terms are then not “mutually exclusive”, they are “_____________” relative to how this second group of people see the relationship.

I expect there is a semantic term that describes exactly this relationship between two specific terms. If not, let's best approximate.

So, the second group of people might say: “Film noir and neo-noir are ______________ terms.”

(Hopefully we can avoid argumentative debate here about proper film taxonomy, as that's not the point. I'm just looking for the best term. As I currently see it, we might just as easily be talking about “soccer ball” and “football”. An assumed large group of people believing the second term works for the first just as well, but not the other way around. Or “Scotch” & “whisky” – etc. I hope these extra examples can be useful to underline the universality of the term requested, vs. obscuring it.)

  • It sounds like your second group is saying "every neo-noir film is also a film noir, but some films noir are uniquely neo-noir". In that case you could say "neo-noir is a superset of film noir" or "neo-noir is a generalization of film noir". Not sure if there is a catch phrase like "mutually exclusive" to handily describe this.
    – Brandin
    Mar 21, 2015 at 8:15
  • If all members of set B are also members of set A, but the sets are not identical, B is a hyponym of A. Thus the term 'forks' is a hyponym of 'cutlery', and 'carmine' and 'scarlet' are hyponyms of 'red'. 'Cutlery' and 'red' are correspondingly hypernyms. Mar 21, 2015 at 8:55
  • 2
    They are related. "Neo-noir is a subset of film noir." "Film noir is a superset including neo-noir." Mar 21, 2015 at 14:11
  • @Brandin: Not sure if you meant to say it that way, but you got it exactly backwards. Right terminology, though. Mar 22, 2015 at 10:15

2 Answers 2


As commenters suggested, "subset" and "superset" can be used. As for a term that applies to both, you'll be hard pressed to find one that applies to both equally, as they have an "asymmetrical relationship"; one is different with respect to the other.

You could say - "film noir {includes/contains/subsumes} neo-noir"


  • "neo-noir is a {subset/sub-genre} of film noir".

In set theory,

  • (neo-noir) contained-in symbol here (film noir)


  • (film noir) intersection symbol here (neo-noir) = (neo-noir)

But for describing the PAIR in plain English, the closest I can come up with is nested, which still leaves it unsaid as to which contains which.


I could have sworn there was a specific term for what I'm talking about from my Philo 101 class, or whatever, but as I re-read it now, “not mutually exclusive” ticks all the boxes.

I don't know what else to do but put that as a prospective answer to my own question, unless someone can come up with a Philosophy/Latin/Lawyer/etc. term to best it, to specify that one term is exclusive and the other not.

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.