I'm looking for a word that describes that there is a hierarchical difference between two objects that are of a different rank. For example, if object A is "School" and object B is "Student", then B is below A in the data hierarchy. Can this be described with a single word or short phrase?

Sample Sentence: "Two entities are _______ in the hierarchy"

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    I'm not sure if this is the right answer so I'll put it as a comment; "hyponymy, subordination - the semantic relation of being subordinate or belonging to a lower rank or class" (from The Free Dictionary by Farlex). These relations are called semantic relations and there are meronymy, holonymy etc. to maybe suit your needs. Jun 5, 2019 at 18:36
  • Hyponymy seems to point to two objects that are of the same class or type, however in my case objects on the hierarchy can be of difference types. While I don't think it suits my needs it's very interesting, thanks for the reply! I think the literal definition of "subordinate" is more suited to my needs, however subordinate tends to point to an hierarchy of authority. Jun 5, 2019 at 18:52
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    I looked further and found that "X" is a meronym of "Y" if Xs are members of Y(s). (from Wikipedia). I too think that subordinate feels too authoritative. Jun 5, 2019 at 19:33
  • Very cool, I think meronym would work in my original example, depending on how you define a School. If you consider a School as all the working elements that make up the institution instead of just the building then I would say Student could be a meronym of School. However, if you consider Principal vs Student you wouldn't consider Student a meronym of Principal, since the student isn't physically a part of the principal. Salesman vs Customer is an interesting example, a Salesman can sell to many Customers, but the Customer would not be considered a meronym or a subordinate to the Salesman. Jun 5, 2019 at 20:06
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    They have a parent-child relationship. Jun 6, 2019 at 4:37

1 Answer 1


Since the sentence already includes "hierarchy", any dissimilarity between entities would presume a difference in rank. I would therefore think that dissimilar, unequal, disparate, or the like would work, without resorting to five-dollar words like meronym and hyponymy. The phrase "of different rank", used in the original question seems fine to me.

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