I tried to Google this but no luck so far. I was wondering if there was proper words to describe the comparison of 2 subjects?

  1. The first subject would be the object being compared in relation to the other (the baseline).
  2. The second subject would be the object compared to the first one.

So you could say, subject 1 is taller than subject 2 for example.

Do we say subject 1 is the subject of comparison and subject 2 is the comparee? I saw some scientific article using the word comparee but it doesn't sound proper to me.

Given the topic, I am updating this question with more context so that it is less confusing. It looks like comparison subjects can have quite a few different names depending on their context. Here is the context I'm looking for (watch out for the pseudocode - yes I'm know I'm not on Stackoverflow...):

function isGreater(subject1, subject2) { if (subject1 > subject2) { return true; } return false; }

More precisely, I'm looking for the left/right words (subject1/subject2) which would be the most semantically correct. We're also presuming that the order does not change and that is example is way much simpler than what I'm trying to solve (which is why semantic variable names make sense).

Please help!

  • Thanks, actually I'm looking for a usage in computer science, mostly for for sort algorithms where you compare the first subject with the second... I found rather undescriptive that most libraries are using object1 and object2 as variables... I'm trying to see if I can find something better Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 22:14
  • Good thing you mentioned computer science because I was going to suggest litigants or adversaries. : )
    – Stan
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 22:24
  • @JEL I believe the key is what things are compared to or with. It is the "first out" of a sort.
    – Stan
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 22:27
  • 1
    For comparison (two or three way, pair-wise or binary) sorts, I prefer to name the objects simply left and right, since the comparative test is if left < right ... else if left = right ... else if left > right ... and in each case, the left side is compared (with <, =, >) to the right side.
    – torek
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 22:33
  • 1
    "Comparand" is the most common term in math and computer science for the two operands in a comparison operation. There isn't, to my knowledge, a well-defined terminology for the left versus right comparand, however.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 22:50

3 Answers 3


Expressions Diagram

OVERVIEW: Expression Diagram:

        operand  operand operand
            |       |       |
expression: X   =   A   +   B   
                |       |   
            operator operator       


OPERATORS   :  operators are symbols that allow the user to instruct the computer to preform
               a certain mathematical or logical operation                  
OPERANDS    :  operands are constants, variables, objects, functions to be operated on by the 

TIP  To understand many of the terms used in computer science and mathematics better, it is  
     helpful to understand the following suffixes that apply to many of these terms.                        

    Suffix             Definition In Context                
              -and  :  the subject that is to be dealt with in a specified way              
    -tor, -or, -er  :  the agent: that takes an active role in or produces a specific effect                    


Logical operators     :  
    plus sign [+], hyphen-minus [-], x or asterisk [*], ÷ or forward-slash [/], caret [^], 
    backslash [\], vertical line [|]                    
Comparative operators :  
    lesser-than sign [<], greater-than sign [>], equal sign [=], or other symbols. 
    Includes definer words such as NOT, AND, OR, etc.                   

In Computer Science:                        
• asterisk [*] replaces 'x' for multiplication                      
• forward-slash [/] replaces the typical obelus (÷), fraction bar, Semi-colon, or 
  long-division (division bracket and vinculum) often used in written mathematics to 
  represent division and/or fractions                       
• caret [^] replaces the superscript representation of exponents in written mathematics. 
  e.g. A^B is equivalent to A<sup>B</sup>                       
• because of the impracticality of using a large set of symbols that traditional written 
  math incorporates, logical and comparative operators are typically replaced with 
  definer words, which vary depending on the programming language.  
  e.g. NOT is equivalent to the not-equal-to symbol [≠] in Visual Basic                     

Note: order of operation qualifiers and functions are not discussed here                        

EXPRESSIONS and OPERANDS (unambiguous):

additive expression                     
 addend  summand   sum              
    |       |       |   
    |       |       |   
    A   +   B   =   X   
    in the additive expression, the left operand is the subject and is called an 'addend', while 
    the right operand is the agent called a 'summand'. The result is called a 'sum'                 
    • A and B (or all numbers to be added together) are referred to as 'addends' generally                  

subtractive expression                      
 minuend  subtrahend  difference                
    |         |           | 
[subject]  [agent]  [result]                
    |         |           | 
    A    —    B     =     X 
    in the subtractive expression, the left operand is the subject called a 'minuend', the right 
    operand is the agent called a 'subtrahend'. The result is called the 'difference'                   

divisional expression                       
 dividend  divisor  quotient                
    |         |        |    
[subject]  [agent]  [result]                
    |         |        |    
    A    ÷    B   =    X    
    in the divisional expression, the left operand [subject] is called 'dividend', the right 
    operand [agent] is called 'divisor'. The result is called 'quotient'                    

multiplicative expression                       
 multiplicand   multiplier  product             
      |             |          |    
  [subject]      [agent]   [result]             
      |             |          |    
      A      x      B     =    X    
    in the multiplicative expression, the left operand [subject] is called 'multiplicand', the 
    right operand [agent] is called 'multiplier'. The result is called 'product'                    
    • A and B (or all numbers being multiplied together) are also called 'factors' generally                    

exponential expression                      
   base   exponent   power          
    |        |        | 
[subject] [agent]  [result]             
    |        |        | 
    A   ^    B    =   X 
    in the exponential expression, the left operand [subject] is called 'base', the right 
    operand [agent] is called 'exponent'. The result is called 'power'                  
    • B (the exponent) is sometimes called the 'index'. It is also often referred to as 
      the 'power' erroneously. Only the result is correctly named 'power'                   
    • an exponential expression is also called an 'exponentiation' 
      (like multiplication, addition, division)             

comparative expression                      
 comparand  comparator  result              
     |          |         | 
 [subject]   [agent]   [result]             
     |          |         | 
     A   <=>    B    =    X 
    in the comparative expression, the left operand [subject] is called 'comparand', the 
    right operand [agent] is called 'comparator'. The result is called 'result'                 
    • in a comparative expression, all operands are expressions in themselves. The result is 
      obtained by comparing these expressions to each other.        
    • the operands (expressions) of a comparative do not have to be numbers, but can be strings, 
      objects or other values and functions. Every comparative result equates to binary 
      values TRUE or FALSE. (e.g. does false equal true = false, does 3 equal 4 = false)                    
    • the end result typically equates to a Boolean value. In computer science, comparative 
      operators may include AND, OR, XOR, NOT or a combination of these and the 
      "<, >, =" symbols; or other symbols and definer words as well. 
      e.g. JavaScript '==' means equal-to               
    • in all of the example expressions above, X (the result) is a comparative expression to AB 
      that invokes the calculation of the value that results to TRUE of the comparative. 
      If we put 'Y = " in front of them, then Y equals the binary comparative of AB=X, 
      X being an expression in form of a value that the comparative AB=X compares whether is 
      TRUE or FALSE.                    
  • 1
    This answer feels like plagiarism. I'm not sure where you got the image from, but all you've done is transcribe it. Answers should be as concise as possible, in your own words, and backed up with sources.
    – CJ Dennis
    Commented Jan 19, 2020 at 0:25
  • transcribed it from where? Do you have evidence that this information is not original? I assure you I created this info and related picture myself from personal knowledge, and a referenced a myriad of different sources to verify my work was correct. mathematics and english. to create a sources list would make the post significantly longer. you are free to verify anything with your own research. Are you just upset that my post was professional and explicitly to the point?
    – Anthony F
    Commented Jan 19, 2020 at 0:52
  • If you have created the image (which can't be indexed), why didn't you just write your answer as text? The formatting of your answer is very hard to read. Your answer is far from the point. It could say what you want to say far more concisely. You haven't cited any references in your answer.
    – CJ Dennis
    Commented Jan 19, 2020 at 1:23
  • I did write my answer as text, which you complained about. The image is "transcribed" because the rules say to, so it CAN be indexed. I added the picture for better formatting than the site allows. It isn't hard to read, it's divided by headers/sub-headers, bulleted, shows diagrams for visual learners, and flows correctly. It's directly on point of the original post, concise to those points, comprehensive and can't be much shorter for all the info provided and diagrams. I don't need references, because this isn't a copy-paste of other people's material or citations; it is my own; my words.
    – Anthony F
    Commented Jan 19, 2020 at 6:36
  • I did have some info that was on topic, but not precisely answering the particular OP query specific to comparative operands like the greater-than operator, but this info helps understand the topic on the whole, and does touch on things the OP brought up. (i.e. OP said "I am updating this question with more context so that it is less confusing. It looks like comparison subjects can have quite a few different names depending on their context" among other things... thus, I gave "other things" as they pertain to the topic)
    – Anthony F
    Commented Jan 19, 2020 at 6:42

Could you compare "choices" or "samples" from within a database of otherwise unknown, unsorted, and unclassified elements.

When working with comparable items, I have also used the term "sorts." The term came into use when referring to a disorganized pile of printer's type that had yet to be disbursed into an organized type case for use. Each sort had to be identified (compared and matched with the others in specific sections of the case).

  • I think I will edit the question to make it more clear, the idea is to distinguish both the reference subject and the other subject used to compare (left/right) - I'm looking for 2 terms. Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 22:36

After several interesting conversation in the post's comments, I got creative and found names for my use case which make most sense for me. While I understand that given the nature of the question it looks almost like at this point this is more of a personal preference than a black and white answer, I will share my thought process.

Based on my use case, concerns comparing two variables from which one is the left and the other is the right in a greater than (>) comparison, I could have picked leftElement and rightElement. While they make sense from a comparison perspective, I find that if looked at in a big block of code, they would be hard to understand.

I preferred to pick referenceElement and comparedElement. The idea behind that is that the first one is the one used as reference for the comparison and the second one is the one we use to compare. While I also understand that there could be context calling this function with a variable named reference which would be used in the right side, I think that local context takes precedence on these situation for better readability. Any good developer should know the different between local variables and their scopes.

Also to give more context, the objects which I use to compare in this function are HTML element, hence the element but I could have picked something else in a different context.

  • Being the OP, and seeing no one has posted a new answer in over a year, maybe you should accept this answer. That way it stops the question being bumped to the front page every month.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 16:42

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