Is there a specific term used to describe the relationship between the words:

  • One and single,
  • Two and double,
  • Three and triple,
  • Etc.

I don't quite think that the term synonym fits here, and was wondering if there was a more specific term.

2 Answers 2


The terms are "Cardinal" and "Ordinal" and "Distributive". One, two, three, etc. are "Cardinal Numbers." First, second, third, etc. are "Ordinal Numbers" (which tell Order). "Distributive Numbers" tell how many of each like Singly,Doubly,Triply and Single,Double,Triple.

We often get the various -nary terms like binary, ternary, and quaternary from Latin distributive numbers (bini, terni, quaterni, quini, seni, etc.), with the exception of unary which comes from their cardinal number one (unus) as opposed to their distributive number one (singuli, which is where singular, single, singularity, etc. come from). Words like primary, secondary, and tertiary usually come from their ordinal numbers (primus, secundus, tertius, quartus, quintus, etc.).

  • Excellent description, thanks! I knew there had to be a concise and accurate term to describe this relationship. Thanks Commented May 9, 2011 at 15:55

You could say the latter is derivative of the former.

  • 1
    Why the downvote? Even if not the best word, it's still in the ball park. And this word actually answers the OP's question directly, the -relationship- between the words.
    – Mitch
    Commented May 9, 2011 at 16:43
  • @Mitch: Thanks. I was wondering the same. I've been getting some targeted downvotes recently, usually right after I answer, and with no explanation. Commented May 9, 2011 at 17:07
  • that -500 looks more like a rescinded bounty than 50 downvotes. The only way I've ever seen a targeted downvote is when...well if I explain it, it might encourage more! In a different direction, I have accidentally downvoted someone without realizing it, and until they edit their answer, I can't change it back.
    – Mitch
    Commented May 9, 2011 at 17:44
  • @Mitch: Yeah, the -500 is a pending bounty. I was referring to the series of -2's. Commented May 9, 2011 at 17:55

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