For example, in the majority of football (soccer) leagues, you'll have a number of tiers such as the first division, second division, third, etc. At the end of each season the few top teams in the second division are promoted to the first division, and the few bottom teams in the first division are relegated to the second division.

What would the second division be refered to from the first division, and visa versa?

I don't think parent/child necessarily makes sense, as this to my mind indicates some level of succession and timing, such as the parenting occuring before the child, where as in this context they are potentially conceived and occur at the same time.


To clarify I'm looking for the noun, such as:

  • The first division is the parent of the second division.
  • The second division is the child of the first division.
  • 1
    Team-above; team-below ?
    – k1eran
    Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 8:34
  • 2
    I should have said league-above/up/after/+1 or league-up/below/down/-1 but same principle :-) hopefully someone has a better idea !
    – k1eran
    Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 8:44
  • 1
    Clubs are promoted and demoted, and they are said to go up a level or down a level.
    – Mick
    Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 9:03
  • 2
    – John Feltz
    Commented Dec 2, 2016 at 5:09
  • 1
    If you read writing about British football, such as on Wikipedia, you'll see the British terminology, which is based on height metaphors: top, higher, upper, lower, etc.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 14, 2022 at 15:05

2 Answers 2


Think of a traditional score table (like in an arcade video game, or pub darts). Someone is at the top, and someone at the bottom, and some others in the middle. Let's call each of those someones a "member", belonging to the "table".

The division system is just like that, except that you have multiple systems of "members" in "tables" (the 1st division is a table of members, and the 2nd division is a table of members, etc.) and then the entire system is a "meta-table", itself, where each member is a table, and you can rank them the same way: that's why the first division is "higher" than the second division, etc. I hope this doesn't sound pretentious. It makes perfect sense.

From a computer programming perspective: you are right that this isn't a parent-child relationship, because a child is generally PART of the parent (e.g. a rocket engine might be a child of a parent rocket-ship). You are talking about a table of tables. So the relationship from div 1 to div 2 is just "next" and "previous", and there is also an assumption that "being more previous than X means you have done better in football than X". Boring, but true.


Since a lower tier can send a team up as well as receive a team that was "relegated" from a higher tier, there's a reciprocal relationship that no single noun would express. You'd need two nouns for all but the highest and lowest tiers.

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