I many times use the verb "subselect". For example:

I subselected all individuals with age below 35 in the sample.

Apparently, this usage of the verb is correct. However, after using it today, I thought, why not simply use "select"?

I selected all individuals with age below 35 in the sample.

I see no practical difference between the two. Is there any difference between these two verbs? For parsimonious reasons, should I simply not use "subselect" anymore?

  • You're onto something there. – Yosef Baskin Jul 13 '17 at 20:21
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    I doubt that subselect is a legitimate word; you won't find it in any of the established dictionaries. In any case, if you're going to use it, you should limit it to cases where you have selected something first, then sub-selected further from that selection - e.g. I selected males first, then subselected those aged below 35. – michael.hor257k Jul 13 '17 at 20:57
  • There is a difference, certainly in technical circles; possibly even outside of them. A "sub select" in SQL database programming (which is really just another "SELECT" statement, but the word sub-select is used to describe it) is a way of selecting a set of items from a larger set. Example: you have 100 rows "selected" (currently) from a table and you want to take 30 rows from that set. This action would be known as a "sub select". – Kace36 Jul 13 '17 at 21:32
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    Per Chris' comment below it only makes sense if you already selected your 35 individuals (in your example) from a larger set. Therefore when selecting a smaller sample out of the 35, you are "subselecting". But this might be a strictly mathematical and technology related concept. I'm not sure. – Kace36 Jul 13 '17 at 21:36
  • @Kace36 My upvote for a sensible comment to what I consider a poorly presented question (which you here seek to improve). I trust you won't take it personally, any more than you would a downvote. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 13 '17 at 23:16

The sub in subselect is there because the word refers to selecting within an existing selection. Just using select is ambiguous in that case as it could mean deselecting the previous selection, then selecting a new item, or it could refer to selecting within the existing selection.

In many cases the context could make it clear which meaning is appropriate, so the sub could be omitted.

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