I'm looking for a noun to use in place of "comparable object," which would make sense in the following context:

Four "comparable objects" were ranked based on their performance in a recent comparison.

I keep thinking of the word "competitor," but I'm not satisfied with it, which made me think of the following analogy:

competitor : competition :: ??? : comparison
  • 8
    In English, I can't think of one. In programming-speak, "comparand", by analogy with "operand". :-) May 25, 2011 at 23:15
  • 1
    Comparable is an acceptable English word but it does imply that they are roughly equivalent - eg "the Mercedes and BMW have comparable running costs".
    – mgb
    May 25, 2011 at 23:32
  • 1
    @Martin +1 for comparable. In many computer languages the name of the interface to implement when you need to develop a compareTo method is named precisely comparable - for instance class stuff implements comparable. Therefore each of the compared object is a "Comparable". That's the correct answer IMO. May 25, 2011 at 23:42
  • 2
    Comparable is an adjective; has it become a noun too? May 26, 2011 at 0:41
  • 1
    @Alain, sure, in programming contexts, I talk about comparables and countables and other -ables all the time as nouns, because that's the convention in that context. I'm not sure if I would do it in a general context yet. Though adjectives do lose their nouns over time -- e.g. laptop, cell -- so this is probably a matter of timing, not absolute yes/no. May 26, 2011 at 15:29

6 Answers 6


One possible word is comparate, defined as follows:

Com"pa*rate\, n. [L. comparatum, fr. comparatus, p. p. of comparare. See 1st Compare.] (Logic) One of two things compared together.

  • Say a foreigner doesn't know what an orange is and you compare it with an apple. Both fruits are comparates, but only the apple is the "compared object", is that correct?
    – Ooker
    Mar 6, 2018 at 13:26
  • alternatives
  • candidates
  • contenders
  • considerations

Four alternatives were ranked based on their appropriateness in the above sentence :)

  • My issue with "alternatives" and "candidates" is that they imply that one object is "correct" and all the rest are "wrong." "Considerations" are how, or perhaps why, you judge something, not so much the entities of your comparison. Upvote for contenders, although colloquially, I struggle to apply it to inanimate objects.
    – Dolph
    May 26, 2011 at 13:10
  • +1 for contenders. If it were me though I'd just say: "Four things were ranked based on their performance in a recent comparison."
    – boehj
    May 28, 2011 at 14:02
  • Or "Four items (...)". Something like "analogous items/entities" also came to my mind. Knowing a little more of the nature of the entity being compared could help.
    – Maria C.
    May 31, 2011 at 17:40

I'm pretty confident the word you're looking for is comparee. A comparee should be "that which is being compared", just as an employee is "that who is being employed".

It goes on to a comparer: that which compares, just as an employer: that who employs.

If anyone speaks latin here, maybe they could also share a latin word for this?



Representative (members) (of the class)? e.g. Consumer Reports looked at these four representative small cars.

Candidates? I know you don't like the implication that there is one best candidate, so this depends on context -- that applies to elections more than to which restaurant you're going to dine at tonight.

From the discussion in comments, "comparables" would work if it's not too geeky for your context. I would personally hesitate to use it in general discourse.

Edited to add: also from the comments, "comparand" by analogy with "operand", if your audience would grok that.

  • I'm voting this up for comparand (which is what immediately came to my mind when I saw the question). There is plenty of programming precedent. Also, besides operand, one might look to dividend as a model (and reject comparator, which is closest to divisor). I don't really have much defense against comparate, with @pageman's killer citation, beyond "It just doesn't sound/look/feel as good as comparand".
    – John Y
    Jun 2, 2011 at 22:06

Options seems to be the most flexible and functional, and works in the sentence.

It's mildly awkward, however. I suspect the actual noun -- printers, trucks, lighthouses, coffeemakers -- is usually used in such a sentence for that very reason.

  • Options doesn't imply a comparison. Options are things you choose between.
    – mcjcloud
    Feb 27, 2022 at 21:26

You may be looking for comparator, and it may be why your brain keeps giving you competitor, because they sound somewhat similar.

From NOAD:

comparator |kəmˈparətər| noun a device for comparing a measurable property or thing with a reference or standard. • an electronic circuit for comparing two electrical signals. • something used as a standard for comparison.

  • 3
    The comparator performs the comparison; it isn't a thing being compared. May 26, 2011 at 0:41
  • @Monica Cellio That's not quite right. The comparator is the standard that others are compared to, but it doesn't actually perform the comparison.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    May 28, 2011 at 1:27
  • 1
    @Kit, it does mean that the answer doesn't answer the qeustion.
    – Thursagen
    May 28, 2011 at 8:08
  • @Kit: in a programming context a comparator usually does perform the comparison (between two values, one of which may be "this" in OOP). In what contexts is the comparator the yardstick? May 29, 2011 at 2:22
  • 1
    In Portal 2, there is a device that accepts or discards sentry units by comparing them with a known correct sentry. By the first definition, the device is the comparator. By the third, the reference sentry is the comparator. By none of the three definitions can the sentry being checked be the comparator. Jun 2, 2011 at 16:26

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.