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Looking for a pair of words that compactly express the notion of moving one position forward, and one position backward.

I had thought to use "advance" for the first, as you might say a clock's second hand advances to the next position. But I'm having a hard time coming up with a corresponding word for the opposite direction. I had thought of regress, and recede and some others but they all seem to me to have a connotation of reverting to a previous state instead of simply moving in a rearward direction.

I think "recess" (as in astronomical "procession" / "recession") almost has the right flavor but that meaning of recess is not well known.

Context: This is for naming a pair of subroutines for navigating a list or array in a software system. One can advance one position in the array or <move backward> one position.

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    It would help to have a context. – J. Taylor Feb 9 '17 at 19:35
  • Is this application only for programming? Or does it have a use in a wider context? If only for programming you should add the tag. – Cascabel Feb 9 '17 at 19:59
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    @Cascabel The word might have an application in board games. – Andrew Leach Feb 9 '17 at 19:59
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    What about "retreat"? – Hellion Feb 9 '17 at 20:02
  • I think recede is the word you were looking for. – Barmar Feb 9 '17 at 20:25
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In programming, we used increment to add one count, decrement to subtract one count.

The process of increasing in number, size, quantity, or extent.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/increment

Simpler, use step forward one or step back one, not fancy but clear.

  • Increment and decrement are reasonable possibilities, but they mix up the idea of advancing/reversing with becoming greater or lesser in value. Taking a step forward is not incrementing anything, it's simply moving in a forward direction. (I realize that that doesn't square all that well with my "context" comment. But I'm trying to accommodate the idea of a circular queue as well, where advancing is not necessarily increasing the index.) Step-forward-one/step-back-one is what I'm looking for, just in one word ;) – Gil Hamilton Feb 10 '17 at 1:23
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You could say retreat. But that does sound sort of strange.

You could use "following"/"previous", "next"/"last" (last isnt so good). Or some combination.

Theres increment and decrement. That doesn't really work.

I don't know what the whole name is, but just making the name longer can make a weird word much more clear. "previousItem" or "getPreviousItem" and "getFollowingItem" or something maybe. to be very clear, you could say "incrementPosition" or even "incrementPositionInArray" (and decrement for the opposite direction).

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