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I'm looking for something like side cause, side influence, dark factor. Googled for those but didn't find relevant hits.

Definition: An influence on something that is not explicit, not taken into account, not declared in the specification, maybe unintentional.

And what would be a better word for converse in the title? I know it isn't the right word but still better than opposite.

  • Your definition sounds like "side effect" to me. Can you clarify how what you are looking for is different from side effect? – Kit Z. Fox May 25 '11 at 12:21
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    @Kit, the same way cause is different from effect. – Unreason May 25 '11 at 12:48
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    As an alternative to converse in the title, how about counterpart? (Brainstorming for comparable terms: opposite, antonym, converse, inverse, counterpart, complementcounterpart seems the most apt to me here.) – PLL May 25 '11 at 13:04
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    @Unreason Urf, of course. Upstream. @PLL I think counterpart is quite apt here. – Kit Z. Fox May 25 '11 at 13:15
  • I like counterpart, too - the trick is that two component terms can have three of them, e.g. for "side effect" we can have "main effect", "side cause" and "main cause"; they all in certain sense mean 'the opposite'. Counterpart somehow suggest to me that it is not a simple opposite (Brainstorming: partial opposite). – Unreason May 25 '11 at 13:22
10

If I understand your question correctly, the term is either contributing cause or contributory cause. I think these two terms are exact synonyms.

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    +1, very nice. Contributing factor is another alternative, and even more common (Ngrams comparison). – PLL May 25 '11 at 13:03
  • A contributing cause is a partial explanation of an effect (e.g., part of a causal chain), but not the root cause. It doesn't have anything to do with side effects per se. – Richard Kayser Nov 11 '16 at 15:31
  • @Richard: read the question more carefully. The OP isn't asking about side effects, but the "converse" of them, "side causes". – Peter Shor Nov 11 '16 at 15:46
  • I'm saying that in causal analysis, a contributing cause generally means contributing to the principal effect, not a side effect. – Richard Kayser Nov 11 '16 at 16:39
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With the right modifier, "condition" or "prerequisite" might work: "unstated condition" for example.

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Concomitant :

–adjective

accompanying; concurrent

–noun

  1. a concomitant quality, circumstance, or thing.

From: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/concomitant

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I don't believe there's a word for what you are seeking -- the "converse" or "counterpart" of side effect (M-W) -- other than cause itself.

A given action (e.g., receiving chemotherapy treatments) could "cause" a variety of effects, some positive (e.g., tumors shrink, cancer goes into remission) and some negative (e.g., your hair falls out, fatigue, nausea). The single action "causes" both positive and negative effects. They don't have separate causes, at least at this level of discourse.

If you want to convey the sense of an effect or consequence being unintended, you could consider unintended cause: The action X was the unintended cause of the effect Y, i.e., X caused Y, but Y was not intended.

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