I'm looking for a pair of words that essentially means "super-collection" and "collection" where the super-collection contains a set of collections. (Alternatively, could be thought of as a "collection" which contains a set of "sub-collections".) I want the words to NOT use either "super" or "sub". I'm open to general English or jargon from specific domains.

Example usage:

Ok, we've got five _<collections>_ – let's group them together into a _<super-collection>_.

  • 1
    Is there a particular reason why you need to avoid super- and sub- ? – choster Dec 15 '16 at 20:27
  • 1
    They could be grouped into an aggregate, for example. Or google synonym superset aggregate and take your pick. – FumbleFingers Dec 15 '16 at 20:52
  • 2
    @Jim: No, superset and subset are not at all the critters being asked about. A is a superset of B, and B is a subset of A, if every element of B is an element of A. What the OP is asking about is a set of sets, not a set that contains the same elements and possibly more. The key words in the question are set of collections. – Drew Dec 15 '16 at 21:17
  • 1
    @Jim: It's these parts of the question that do not fit that meaning: (1) "a set of smaller collections", in the title, and (2) "contains a set of collections" in the question body. Those clearly indicate a set (or collection) of sets (or collections), and not just a set (or collection) that contains the same members (and possibly more). – Drew Dec 15 '16 at 21:28
  • 1
    @Ghopper21 what are the things that you are grouping together? Documents, people, buildings, plants, etc? – John Feltz Dec 15 '16 at 21:48

This question asks for abstract collective nouns that have an intuitive hierarchy, with one word each for what in mathematics would be called a "set" and "set of sets."

Approach 1: Use a collective noun with a suffix for the second "set of sets" term in order to emphasize the higher-order act of bringing-together.

  • We combined five groups into an aggregation.
  • We combined five sets into a collection.

Approach 2: Use a more specific collective noun for the set, and a more general for the set of sets. The question is carefully phrased to avoid the domain of the set items / objects, however if there is a domain then this would be a good strategy.

  • From the photos we combined five albums into a collection.
  • From the auction items we combined five lots into a collection.
  • It would be appealing if we could use shorter and longer words with an implicit relationship to imply the hierarchy, but combining lots into an allotment isn't clear, and a collection of lects is nonsense. – JeremyDouglass Dec 16 '16 at 15:34
  • Thanks. This morning I thought of "neighborhood" and "block" which of course is very domain-specific. – Ghopper21 Dec 16 '16 at 18:00


let's group them together into a lot


Noun, informal

a particular group, collection, or set of people or things


For some reason, your question reminds me of how Russell and Whitehead defined "number". As I remember it, a "number" is "the class of all classes equivalent to the given class".

I see no reason you can't use collection to characterize a set of smaller collections.


collection: something that is collected

If the "something that is collected" is a collection, the result remains a collection.

Your example:

Ok, we've got 5 collections -- let's group them together into a collection.


Since you are open to language from specific domains how about clan or tribe?

Ok, we've got five families – let's group them together into a clan or tribe.

  • Downvoter could you explain so I may be a better contributor? – AllInOne Feb 1 '17 at 14:16

What about using parent & child

"Ok, we've got 5 children -- let's group them together into a parent."


While this is a suffix, not a word, you could look in to using -ana to form the word you want. Depending on the nature of the collections, you might be able to use the suffix -ana to make a word that describes the larger collection. Dictionary.com's definition for the suffix is

a suffix that forms collective nouns denoting an assembly of items, as household objects, art, books, or maps, or a description of such items, as a bibliography, all of which are representative of or associated with the place, person, or period named by the stem: Americana; Shakespeareana; Victoriana.

Using the suffix along with the person/place/etc. that is the topic of each collection could, depending on the context, make a specific word for a specific situation, but doesn't make a general word to describe a collection of collections.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.