Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since I'm coding a shared css class for radio buttons and checkboxes, I would like to word it with the appropriate hypernym.

Kind regards

  • 1
    Were there a good hypernym, jQuery wouldn't have used the name checkboxradio.
    – Laurel
    Mar 30, 2018 at 17:55
  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's a specific computing question for, say, Stackoverflow.
    – Fattie
    Mar 30, 2018 at 23:13
  • 2
    @Fattie This question would be off topic on Stack Overflow. They don't do 'name this thing' questions.
    – Laurel
    Mar 31, 2018 at 0:27
  • 1
    @Laurel Neither do we.
    – tchrist
    Mar 31, 2018 at 0:44
  • 1
    @Test123, the blunt reality is WWW and app questions are just not wanted on here. It's a specific, technical, engineering question. Say someone asked "What's the term for ... " something to do with bridge building. Of course it would just be closed as a field-specific engineering question. Just because there happens to be a lot of programmers who use SE sites (wave), ELU isn't gonna make an exception for questions about CSS, Swift, c# etc "best names for classes". It ain't gonna happen.
    – Fattie
    Mar 31, 2018 at 14:37

3 Answers 3


I suggest one of the following words.

  • choice
  • selection

"choice", because whether the user is checking a box, unchecking a box, or choosing one item in a radio button list, they are clearly making a choice. A proprietary programming language used the term "choicelist" for a list with multiple check boxes.

"selection", because Google's Material Design web site calls check boxes and radio buttons "selection controls".

  • 1
    Great answer! I'm personally going to go with "choice", as I have concerns about the potential ambiguity between "selection" and the <select> input. Sep 2, 2018 at 15:06

Looking back at the World Wide Web Consortium's XForms specification (XForms 1.1, 2009; XForms 2.0, 2012), radio buttons and drop-down lists that allow only one choice are renderings of a select1 element, and check boxes and drop-down lists that allow more than one choice are renderings of a select element. (Most people don't know how to make multiple selections from a drop-down lists, but both XForms and HTML forms support this.)

So if the hypernym that is being requested here can also cover drop-down lists, I would suggest "select control" or "selection control".

  • Thanks, but the word should not include drop-down lists. As for naming the css class, I went with "checkboxradio" for the lack of coming up with a better, equally specific name. Mar 31, 2018 at 12:13
  • 1
    Again, in case you feel bad about the question being closed: as a software engineer I obsess to the point of mental disturbance over the names we use in our codebases for classes - everyone who works for me hates this. But honestly this site just has no connection at all to strings people use in our computer code. While the answer here is admirable, simply step back and look at the answer, and of course, obviously, it should be on codereview.com, CSS.stackoverflow, www-devs.stackoverflow .. or whatever. I mean it's a discussion of RFCs - heh!! Utterly no connection to ELU.
    – Fattie
    Mar 31, 2018 at 14:43
  • Yes, I can completely understand now. Thanks for making me aware. Apr 1, 2018 at 15:42

I've used quite a few GUI frameworks and libraries, and usually they're most commonly called: widgets

List of common generic widgets
Widget toolkits

Typically, users interact with information by manipulating visual widgets that allow for interactions appropriate to the kind of data they hold.
Graphical User Interface

It's true that the name will vary among different GUI frameworks/libraries/systems. In two of the most popular frameworks, Qt and wxWidgets, as well as nearly every other GUI library I've used calls them widgets. It's true that in technical parlance "control element" may be used." But if you search around I'm pretty sure you'll find them being more often referred to as widgets.

Comparison of GUIs and widgets supported

In Windows they're generally called controls.

Controls Button
Date and Time Picker
List box Progress Bar
Scroll Bar
Status Bar

Windows documentation

If you do a search for GUI control it will most likely bring you results for "widget"

HTML is the only place I know of where they're referred to as elements. But I have a feeling that's because it's a markup language where nearly everything is an element.

3. Computers a. An element of a GUI, such as a text box or button, that displays information or settings that can be entered or altered by the user.
American Heritage Dictionary

It's true you won't find this definition in many dictionaries, but I searched for "control" and didn't find anything of the sort. There's no doubt in my mind that they're now most popularly called widgets, though I'm not sure exactly when this happened. All I know is that the word widget was used much earlier than in a computer GUI context. It's been generally used as a placeholder name to mean a "thing.".

If "widget" runs the risk of being misunderstood, then "GUI widget" is a lot clearer.

Edit: I may have misunderstood the question, if you want a word that means either selection box or radio button but doesn't include all the other widgets, then I'd struggle to find a word. As far as I know the difference between a radio button and a checkbox is that you can check multiple checkboxes but only one radio button. The checking of either of these two may be "selection", which Chris Wolfe has already in his answer, or "toggling", as you're marking on and off. Technically toggling might be incorrect because some selection boxes might have three states, not just on or off. Oh, I'm confused.

  • 1
    Widget should be fine for the OP but I think the literal question is what is a hypernym for checkbox and tadiobutton and no others .
    – Mitch
    Mar 31, 2018 at 1:59
  • 2
    @Mitch Well technically it is a hypernym, but I get your point. Organism is a hypernym for a trapdoor spider, it's not very specific. Yeah he'd definitely have trouble if he wanted a word specifically for those two.
    – Zebrafish
    Mar 31, 2018 at 2:08

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