Is there a word in English that refers to the symbol that has another symbol associated with it as a subscript, superscript, leftscript or rightscript? For example (lacking Latex here), if I have the Einstein's equation E=mc2, then c has a superscript the number 2 in a subexpression c2, but how would I refer to c itsself in a subexpression c2?

Some words that come to my mind are middlescript, mainscript, main symbol, ground symbol, base symbol, etc. but all of these are just my inventions I have never heard elsewhere.

  • 2
    Baseline symbol? (Which is to say, the symbol at the baseline.)
    – Tushar Raj
    May 22, 2015 at 18:45
  • What’s hard about E = mc²? :)
    – tchrist
    May 22, 2015 at 18:48
  • superscriptand?
    – Mitch
    May 22, 2015 at 18:48
  • 2
    I agree with @TusharRaj - in typography, one would normally say that the c in that equation is on the baseline. Likewise, in math, the number operated on by the exponent is the base. Using a term involving "base" or "baseline" should be clear in most cases.
    – recognizer
    May 22, 2015 at 19:38

1 Answer 1


In typography, normal characters are said to sit on the baseline, the provided Wikipedia link says (in part)

the baseline is the line upon which most letters "sit" and below which descenders extend.

A diagram showing terms to do with letter height and positioning on the baseline

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