# "Position" vs "location"

I am working on a software project where I have a location in 3d-space ("it can be found at the mathematical point X/Y/Z") as well as an orientation in space ("it is tilted 30° around the X axis"). Some objects have a location, but no orientation (like a unidirectional light source), others have an orientation, but no location (like sunrays), and the majority of objects have both (a table, a ship, a bird, etc.).

I managed to call the first group `Locatable` and the second group `Rotatable`, but I'm having trouble coming up with a concise name for the last group. Currently I'm using `Positionable`, which could be mistaken for the first group, and was wondering if anyone had a better idea.

• Aren't most (or all) objects that have both a location and an orientation tangible? Maybe that could be the base for a useful name. Commented Nov 11, 2011 at 11:18
• @JoachimSauer: That's a great idea, I hadn't thought of that. Unfortunately there are such objects, which are not really tangible, like the point in space that emits the light of a spotlight. But your approach might lead us to something else. Commented Nov 11, 2011 at 12:16
• @JasperLoy: Unfortunately, yes, but I really need concise names for these "types", as I am working on improving the readability of existing application code. Commented Nov 11, 2011 at 12:18
• Having written 3D graphics software in the past myself, I'd question whether you actually need three different names at all. It's more usual just to treat everything as an object that has properties, two of which are location and rotation, and you just check whether an object has one or both those properties set as required. Commented Nov 12, 2011 at 13:14

To represent your several categories, you need words that (a) already have meaning specific to your need; that (b) are uncommon, to sidestep confusion that arises when a word is used multiple ways; and that (c) can flex, taking suffixes -ed, -able, -less without elephantining. (The -less suffix denotes -able but not yet -ed, e.g. fixable but not yet fixed.)

In chart below, (a), (b), (c) denote these criteria (specific; uncommon; flexible), and I, II, III denote your categories: I (placed), II (aimed), III (aimed and placed). Each line of the chart suggests a base word and its category, then an assessment (+, ., -) for good, neutral, bad.

• orientationless, I: .a +b -c
• locate, I: +a .b -c
• place, I: +a .b +c
• spot, I: +a +b +c (except spotless may confuse)
• fix, I: +a .b +c
• locationless, II: .a +b -c
• rotate, II: +a +b -c (rotatable and unrotated both clumsy)
• line, II: .a .b +c (except lineable is clumsy)
• head, II: .a .b +c
• aim, II: +a .b +c (except aimless may confuse)
• position, III: .a -b -c
• tangible, III: -a .b -c
• fungible, III: -a .b -c
• solid, III: .a .b -c
• overt, III: +a +b -c
• patent, III: .a .b +c
• 6-fixed, III: +a +b +c

You might disagree with my assessments, but could use a similar approach in evaluating some words. As you can see from the list, I think overt and 6-fixed, a neologism, are the best possibilities for naming your aimed-and-placed objects.

• Wow, thanks, these are very interesting thoughts and a good list! Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 8:47

Personally, I'd start by calling the two existing categories something like orientationless and locationless. The lack of one attribute or the other is presumably the defining feature of each category, if most objects in the database actually have both.

Alternatively OP can draw on David Deutsch's somewhat creative use of the word (imagine drumroll here) fungible. As per my answer here, this seems to imply that every measurable attribute of some particular "thing" could be replicated in another one. Deutsch thinks there may be an infinite number of "things" sharing exactly the same combination of attribute values, but OP's database could probably get away with storing them all as one single record (or possibly store them all in an infinite number of fungible databases).