Is "accumulatory" a word? I'm intending it to be a word that means the opposite of "fragmentary". I thought maybe "accumulatory" would be the adjective form of "accumulate", but I can't seem to find it in any dictionaries.

What is the adjective version of "accumulate"? Or, what is a word that is the opposite of "fragmentary"? I am using this word specifically to describe collisions that lead to the merging and growth of the colliding bodies, as opposed to collision that lead to the colliding bodies to fragment and shrink in size.

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    Accumulative: tending or given to accumulation - merriam-webster.com/dictionary/accumulative – user66974 Jan 19 '17 at 23:28
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    @HotLicks Almost all of the google references to it I found were referring to a death metal band name, not using it as a word in a sentence. Also, Google is not a dictionary. Hit counts are useless for validating word usage.There are 480,000 hits for hjkl, that doesn't make it a word. – barbecue Jan 20 '17 at 0:05
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    @HotLicks There are 314,000 results returned for quisp which is a registered trademark name of a breakfast cereal. There are over a million hits for catb which is a stock symbol. The fact that you can find a lot of examples of a string of characters with a google search proves exactly nothing about whether or not it's a word. – barbecue Jan 20 '17 at 0:36
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    There are MORE THAN SIX THOUSAND HITS for the word pergenant and 32k for prangent. Every one of them is a "legitimate use" of a word, just not spelled correctly, again, your hit counts are meaningless. Also, if hit counts matter, then accumulative has 2.8 million hits, so clearly I win. Can we please stop pretending that google hits mean anything at all? Google hits are not even remotely a meaningful reference statistic. – barbecue Jan 20 '17 at 0:44
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    Want to know more about 'ive' vs 'ory'? lingref.com/cpp/hel-lex/2008/paper2168.pdf It seems like there are many words fighting it out between the two choices. Discriminative vs discriminatory, Investigative/investigatory to name two. – Tom22 Jan 20 '17 at 1:58

Accumulatory appears to qualify as a "word", in that it is used in serious publications.

Cholescintigraphy (1981):

For each study two functional images are generated, i.e. accumulatory phase (upslope) and excretory phase (downslope),for the Diethyl-Ida turnover.

Rethinking Feminist Interventions Into the Urban (2013):

In Kingston, safety from both economic and physical violence has also provided the leaders of garrison communities with the loyalty and allegiance needed to engage in the capital accumulatory activities in the illicit economy.

Handbook of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry: Volume 2 (2003):

This study of alum dehydration under accumulatory conditions showed that the magnitudes of Arrhenius parameters were similar to those previously determined in vacuum.

And my favorite, The Abject Object: Avatars of the Phallus in Contemporary French Theory, Literature and Film (1994):

Georges Batille's current status as 'one of the central figures in twentieth-century French thought' (Hegarty: 2) is a comparatively recent acquisition, if so retentive and accumulatory a term can be used as an oeuvre so marked by processes of expenditure, dissemination, and squandering.

(And easily a dozen more.)

And here is a use from 1876:

For working these cranes, and others proposed to be erected on this wharf, a large engine-house, with accumulatory towers, and all the latest improvements and appliances, is rapidly drawing towards completion under the direction of Mr. C. W. Darley, resident engineer for harbours and rivers.

Yes, there are other terms that are more common, but it's pretty difficult to claim this is not a legitimate "word".


Celestial bodies that grow by accumulating fragmentary particles into a massive body are said to grow by accretion.

The adjective form of accretion is accretionary.

  • Accretion doesn't quite work for me, because the celestial bodies I'm talking about are often the same size. Accretion, at least in astrophysics, describes big things getting bigger by acquiring much smaller things. – NeutronStar Jan 20 '17 at 1:29

Yes, as the other answers have noted, "accumulatory" is definitely a word. What I'm not so convinced about is that it's the right word for the purpose you want to use it for. For that matter, I'm not even sure that "fragmentary" really makes sense in the context you're using it in, either.

The problem with "fragmentary" is that, at least to my ear, it describes something that is broken into pieces, scattered and/or incomplete. Specifically, it describes a state of being, not an action such as a collision. So one could, idiomatically, speak of an ancient "fragmentary document", of which only some parts survive, or, in astrophysics, perhaps of a "fragmentary body" that has been shattered into pieces by a collision. But I, at least, would not idiomatically describe the collision itself as fragmentary, since it's a single event that is not, in any meaningful sense, incomplete or consisting of multiple pieces.

(A possible exception, where "fragmentary collision" could seem appropriate, is if one of the colliding bodies was already broken into fragments that each separately struck the other body. In that case, one might indeed describe the collision event itself as involving multiple fragments.)

So what words should you use instead? Well, for collisions that break things apart, there's the perfectly good English word "fragmenting", derived from the verb "to fragment", i.e. to break something up into fragments.

Conversely, for its antonym, one might perhaps choose "accumulating", or possibly "agglomerating", "conglomerating" or "coalescing". Of course, the corresponding Latinate adjectives "accumulative", "agglomerative", "conglomerative" and "coalescent" would also work, although they don't parallel "fragmenting" quite so nicely.

Ps. I did some Google searching to try and find out what, if any, actual established terms of art there might be for these concepts.

Searching for "fragmentary collision" or "fragmentary collisions" does turn up a couple of seemingly relevant sources that use the term, although in some cases (such as "the fragmentary collision of Comet P / Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter") it's clearly used in the sense I noted above as the "possible exception", i.e. to describe a previously fragmented body colliding with another one. There are also a number of clearly irrelevant matches, such as "romance is a fragmentary collision of wary strangers".

However, "fragmenting collision" and "fragmenting collisions" both turn up orders of magnitude more results. A considerable fraction of them are clearly from astrophysical literature, although notably, the term also seems to be used in other fields such a physical chemistry or materials science to describe collisions between molecules or small grains or droplets of matter.

One of the first results also suggests a simple antonym for "fragmenting" that I had previously overlooked: "non-fragmenting".

Based on searching for the other antonyms I suggested above, I'm getting a first impression that "accumulating" and "accumulative" are probably the most common choices, although several of the others also turn up a relevant match or two. Of course, it's always possible that there's some even more common term that, not being an astrophysicist myself, I'm simply missing completely.

In any case, there are no Google results for either "accumulatory collision" or "accumulatory collisions" (although of course, as soon as Google indexes this answer, there will be).

  • This is all very helpful. Sometimes I say something along the lines of "...would cause the collision to be fragmentary instead of accumulatory". "Fragmenting" and "accumulating" don't sound right when put into this sentence, are there other words that would work better? – NeutronStar Jan 20 '17 at 17:48
  • @Joshua: I don't really see anything wrong with "...fragmenting instead of accumulating" (or "...accumulative"), but if you don't like it, how about rephrasing the sentence into something like e.g. "...would lead to fragmentation instead of accumulation" (possibly with the word "collision" mentioned earlier in the sentence, if it's not obvious from the context). – Ilmari Karonen Jan 22 '17 at 4:02

Perhaps you would like agglomeration. This noun has the meaning I think you want. From Merriam-Webster:

1: the action or process of collecting in a mass the agglomeration of matter into stars and galaxies

As you can see, it is used in contexts very similar to yours. Google searches find many examples of things like "ballistic agglomeration" and the use of the term in relation to asteroids, particle collision, and the like.

Also, it gives you the opportunity to say that your colliding bodies glommed onto one another, which has a certain folksy charm.


I'll offer agglutinative


transitive verb
1: to cause to adhere : fasten
2: to combine into a compound : attach to a base as an affix
3: to cause to undergo agglutination
intransitive verb
1: to unite or combine into a group or mass
2: to form words by agglutination

"Agglutinate." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2017.

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