If a first-tier item is called primary, and a second-tier item is called secondary, what can third, and greater, -tier items be called?

  • 3
    Voting to close as general reference, this is the first Google result for "primary secondary numbering" oxforddictionaries.com/page/aftertertiary
    – JoseK
    Sep 8, 2011 at 9:12
  • I honestly didn't think to search for that. I was looking for variations on the number 3 and thought it would be useful to know if there was an actual sequence I wasn't aware of.
    – Soviut
    Sep 8, 2011 at 9:17
  • Closed because "this question is too basic". Shut up, Stack Exchange! lol Some questions are basic in nature, and don't need to be made overly complicated. Would it please the SE gods if OP had padded the question with "intellectualism" by including a history and etymology of the word "primary" and all the others that follow in the sequence? :-) Closed or not, I'm upvoting this Q&A, for its legitimacy and usefulness as a reference.
    – Mentalist
    Jun 7 at 1:21

1 Answer 1


The third would be called "tertiary". The Oxford Online Dictionary provides the rest:

The sequence continues with quaternary, quinary, senary, septenary, octonary, nonary, and denary

  • 1
    Excellent, I actually thought of that but believed it to be all-encompassing; Essentially anything that wasn't primary. I'm glad to learn that this isn't the case.
    – Soviut
    Sep 8, 2011 at 9:16
  • Thank you! for some reason "trinary" is all that came to mind, although I knew it was wrong, since "trinary" merely refers to a set of three, not an ordinal third numbering in a sequence. After some consideration, I believe that "some reason" is: while both prefixes are Latin, in English it is more common to find words with the cardinal tri- prefix than the ordinal terti- prefix. Ref.
    – Mentalist
    Jun 7 at 1:34

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