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So say you have a car, which is composed of some seats, which are composed of some fabric

You could say that the Seats are a subcomponent of the Car and the Fabric is a subcomponent of the Seat

But is there a way to describe the relationship in the other direction?

Like "The Car is a supercomponent of a Seat"

Specifically, I am trying to list "Subcomponents" as well as "Supercomponents", and want to describe the lists accurately

Here is an example of the two lists, if I'm looking at a Seat:

Subcomponents:
- Fabric
- Cushion
- Frame

Supercomponents:
- Car
- Desk
- Airplane

I'm just wondering if there is another, better word for "Supercomponents"

  • It's worth mentioning that "component" can be defined arbitrarily. If you assemble a bunch of components, you could say the result is an assembly. However, if you then have to combine that assembly with some other components (or assemblies), it is acting as a component of the larger assembly. Essentially, "component" or "assembly" depends on what you need to do. The assembly created by process A could be a component required by process B. – mRotten Feb 20 '19 at 4:38
  • The answers posted give some insight into how you might describe such a relationship as asked by the question, but none provide a word that succinctly expresses that relationship. I would hazard to guess that there is no such word in the English language as it is used today. – R Mac Feb 20 '19 at 14:29
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In manufacturing, components are combined to create an assembly. You will see this word on parts diagrams and other documentation about how to construct a machine. In fact, a component is an assembly of its subcomponents. For example, most cars have what is called a "tail light assembly" which consists of a light bulb, socket, reflector, and lens. The "seat" in your list would be ordered from a supplier as a "seat assembly" to distinguish it from the "seat frame".

However, there is a conceptual problem with your question: although the tail light is part of a car, a car is a lot more than something that has a tail light. In manufacturing, you might call the car a product or a machine.

For your list, I would use used in or part of

Seat has subcomponents:
- Fabric
- Cushion
- Frame

Seat is used in:
- Car
- Desk
- Airplane

Or just say a seat is a subcomponent of a car.

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Try construction.

A component is literally a constituent part of something (Merriam-Webster). A subcomponent is a constituent part of a component (M-W). You're right that supercomponent may be odd - logically, if a subcomponent helps form a component, a component helps form, well, anything built from components. So you're looking for a word that signals how something is built from components.

One word for this is a construction:

2a : the process, art, or manner of constructing something ... also : a thing constructed

What does it mean to construct something?

1 : to make or form by combining or arranging parts or elements : build

So the car is a construction made from a seat and other components. Similarly, your three-part breakdown would involve subcomponents, components, and constructions, the last denoting what components can be used to build.

Other words to try include assembly and assemblage.

  • Yes but that doesn't answer the OP's question. If A is a subcomponent of B, B is not a component of A. I believe that's what the OP is asking--what is the opposite relational descriptor. – R Mac Feb 20 '19 at 3:07
  • I don't follow the objection. If A is a subcomponent of B, B is a component of C, and C is a construction or assembly of B and other components. Of course B is not a component of A; I'm unaware of making that claim. – TaliesinMerlin Feb 20 '19 at 11:48

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