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I'm seeking a pair of words to distinguish between the two entities below, words that make it clear I'm talking about components of government, words that the reader understands as referring to government without needing to be told explicitly.

For example, tire and rim: you don't need me to tell you I'm talking about parts of a wheel, and you understand that the two words refer to specific parts. Or roof and foundation: it's clear I'm talking about two well-defined components of a house; top-o-gov and bottom-o-gov; head-o-chicken and body-o-floppin'.

The two entities in particular:

  1. The "top" part of the US Federal Government, that is, the three branches Executive, Legislative, Judicial.
  2. All the rest of the bureaucracy and machinery such as the Post Office, social programs, embassies, Bureau of Land Management, federal police forces, everything run by the Federal Government but not in the "top" part.
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  • Yikes, do I have to know that much about government to figure out a word? Rats, I thought there might be something in place already. Mucho thanks. Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 14:11
  • Ah, well. Thanks. Think I should delete the question? Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 14:23
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    correction: the two entities below.
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 14:46
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    Not sure if it has application elsewhere or not, but in the UK and Ireland, big-G Government (the executive, usually "the Government") is sometimes distinguished from little-g government (government in the broadest sense), particularly in official usage. For example: "To be able to run the Government, a party needs to show that it has the ‘confidence’ of the House of Commons." vs "The websites of all government departments and many other agencies and public bodies have been merged into GOV.UK."
    – tmgr
    Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 15:22
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    I'm not sure I understand. What are you asking for that is not 'the federal government' or 'US government' (or some variation) which refers to the entire government, and then there are the names for any particular branch or administrative division (eg the legislative branch, the Congress) referring to individual parts?
    – Mitch
    Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 17:14

2 Answers 2

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  • top [level] Federal bodies [the three branches of government, they are the bodies of the Federal Government]

  • Then, Houston, you have a problem.

    All these: Post Office, social programs, embassies, Bureau of Land Management, federal police forces, are things [sorry] come under the various government departments. Government departments are headed by secretaries, all of whom together form the President's Cabinet. [By the way, there is no Federal police force, only the FBI.]

For example, the Secretary of State [Foreign Secretary in British parlance] oversees the embassies through the Department of State.

Generally speaking, all those things could be referred to as:

  • Government departments, (independent and non-independent) agencies, entities and government-owned corporations.

A few of them are under the Legislative branch of government such as the Congressional Budget Office and Library of Congress

Here is a full breakdown of the whole thing: US Federal Government

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  • Thanks much. Was there a word to refer to the top level, the three branches as a group, that distinguishes it from the rest of the machinery? Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 15:04
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    "the government" is used colloquially. But "the government" can mean any Federal thing as viewed -usually - negatively.
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 15:08
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branches / agencies

Branches of the U.S. Government and Government Agencies and Elected Officials usa.gov

branches = 3

agencies (agencies and elected officials) = hundreds upon hundreds within the 3 branches!

As in:

Within the U.S. Government, there are 3 main branches containing hundred and hundreds of agencies.

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