Suppose I have a cube, and want to number each side from 1 to 6 in the following fashion: "number X corresponds to the [name of side] of the cube".

Is there any guide to whether I should use the word side in relation to the front/back/left/right/top/bottom of the cube?

Here is what I think:

  • Number 1 corresponds to the front/front side of the cube. I am not sure which is more idiomatic.

  • Number 2 corresponds to the back/back side of the cube. I am not sure which is more idiomatic.

  • Number 3 corresponds to the right side of the cube. I think I should use "right side" rather than just "right".

  • Number 4 corresponds to the left side of the cube. Same as "right side"

  • Number 5 corresponds to the top / top side of the cube. I am not sure which is more idiomatic.

  • Number 6 corresponds to the bottom / bottom side of the cube. I am not sure which is more idiomatic.

I am only talking about the outer surfaces of the cube. The correct answer should be applicable to rectangular cuboids as well.

Side note: It seems there's a little bit of misunderstanding. I'm not asking whether the more correct term to refer to the surface of a cube should be "side" or "face". I'm asking whether one should drop the word "side" in the case of the phrases above considering you would need to present all 6 phrases (in a presentation for example).

  • Are you asking if the word for the surface of a cube is side? Or are you asking what each directional side should be called? Also, as given in the answer of faces, it's obvious that there's more than one word that can be used for the surface. Similarly, you could say rear as opposed to back. Which particular aspect of the terminology are you concerned with, and what is the specific context? Colloquially and informally, most people use the word side if referring to the surface of a cube. Only in something more domain-specific would face be used; but it's correct in that context. Jul 20, 2019 at 14:13
  • "asking what each direction side should be called" -> this would be correct. I'm not asking in a very mathematical degree context though. I guess it is more in a junior high school setting (or general or formal english setting).
    – Tomsofty33
    Jul 20, 2019 at 14:17
  • I'm avoiding using rear. I'm more interested to see how should you use the word "back" in this context. "most people use the word side" -> that is what i'm still not quite sure about for these 4 terms (top, bottom, front, back). Does it sound redundant if I add the word "side" to these 4 terms when speaking in these pecific phrases for that specific topic? Are there any differences between BE and AE?
    – Tomsofty33
    Jul 20, 2019 at 14:30
  • Deixis is involved. One can't top about the 'top' [face] of a cube, for instance, without somehow specifying orientation (as say in a diagram), as the cube can appear in 24 different equivalent orientations. Once orientation is specified, 'top' and 'bottom' are usually evident, as are 'front', 'back', 'left [face]' and 'right [face]'. Jul 20, 2019 at 16:09
  • 1
    Yes but in the OP question, in the 6 phrases above, would you still choose to drop the "side" word ? (I mean for No.1, 2, 5 and 6) Would it still sound natural if dropped or is it actually more idiomatic to attach the "side" word in "these" particular phrases? (Again i'm referring to phrase 1,2, 5 and 6 above which are front / back side and top / bottom side, just to be clear, as I'm quite sure it wouldn't sound natural if you dropped the "side" word in phrase 3 and 4 above, cmiiw)
    – Tomsofty33
    Jul 20, 2019 at 19:17

1 Answer 1


You didn't ask a question. I think you mean to ask what one would call these "sides": they are faces. As per Wolfram MathWorld:

It is common to refer to the front face, back face, left face, right face, top face, and bottom face of a cube.

  • It is common in? BE or AE? Both?
    – Tomsofty33
    Jul 20, 2019 at 14:07
  • I didn't ask "a" question. I asked 4 questions. Point number 1,2, 5 and 6.
    – Tomsofty33
    Jul 20, 2019 at 14:09
  • As I said in the comments above, the word face would be too mathematical in this context. I'm searching for how should it be in a more general / formal setting.
    – Tomsofty33
    Jul 20, 2019 at 14:24
  • @Tomsofty33 — If you asked four questions, that’s three too many for SE. Be grateful for a clear concise answer. Your question(s) is/are on the way to being ruled off-topic.
    – David
    Jul 20, 2019 at 18:25
  • @David OP is asking for what style should be applied. I don't think 4 separate questions are necessary. Aug 3, 2019 at 13:57

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