In a 2×2 matrix the intersection of a single row and column can be referred to as a quadrant. Is there a corresponding or more general term for a 3×3 matrix?

  • 2
    Personally I like "cell". :-)
    – Hellion
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 19:12
  • @Hellion Yeah, I wasn't sure if that was a spreadsheet-specific term though. I couldn't find any references that suggest cell is appropriate for a general table or matrix.
    – BenV
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 19:14
  • I'm not going to trawl through the Google results: you can do that yourself. There are many. Perhaps there's an authoritative example; here's a generic one: 'You can generate values algorithmically to fill the cells of a matrix.' Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 21:03
  • @EdwinAshworth Sorry, I meant authoritative references. I can find a lot of Google results that use there as a possessive pronoun, but that doesn't make it correct.
    – BenV
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 21:20
  • Look this up: Criminology Research Focus - Page 17 - Google Books Result books.google.co.uk/books?isbn=1600218822 Karen T. Froeling - 2007 - ‎Criminologie The column totals at the last row of the matrix represent fn,f2l, ,fk\ for the first k ... -TM and the command input into the cell for row 2 and column l of the matrix ... Third, sort the column order according to the column sums in ascending order. Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 21:51

3 Answers 3


How about an element? According to mathwords:

Element is an entry in a matrix. Its address is given by row and column number.

  • 1
    Hmm, that's a good one. Also from this site I see that an element of a 2x2x2 cube is an octant :)
    – BenV
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 19:16
  • No; that's the term for the item occupying that position. The position itself is a cell. Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 21:00
  • 3
    Please don't make people click through to a justification (the link might die). Please include the justification in your answer, and use the link along with plain-text to provide the citation.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 7:00

The individual items in a matrix are called its elements or entries.

But everyone I know calls them "cells", because of Excel.

And quadrant refers to a subspace of a Cartesian space, consisting of all points lying on the same side of all axes. In 2-space, the "lower right" quadrant consists of all points below the x-axis and to the right of the y-axis. In 3-space, such a subspace should be called an "octant", but isn't.

  • You're failing to distinguish position and the item occupying that position with 'element' = 'entry'. Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 21:02
  • For a given matrix, the position uniquely defines the value in that position. I suppose you could talk about cell in any of several matrices... Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 0:35
  • But OP is obviously focusing on the geometrical feature rather than the information stored at that location. Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 3:46

In the game tic tac toe, the grid positions are typically referred to as spaces, or squares.

Tic-tac-toe (also known as Noughts and crosses or Xs and Os) is a paper-and-pencil game for two players, X and O, who take turns marking the spaces in a 3×3 grid.
The first player, who shall be designated "X", has 3 possible positions to mark during the first turn. Superficially, it might seem that there are 9 possible positions, corresponding to the 9 squares in the grid. However, by rotating the board, we will find that in the first turn, every corner mark is strategically equivalent to every other corner mark.

Squares is also used to refer to the positions on a chessboard/checkerboard.

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