Is there a word that refers to all items in a series except the first one? Example:

The tests are successful only on the first run. On all subsequent runs, following the first one, the tests fail.

I was thinking of the word "penultimate" (the one before the last one) and was wondering if there is a similar word that could be used in the case described above.


9 Answers 9


You could use noninitial.

Noninitial: Not occurring at the beginning of a word, phrase, or sentence; not initial.

Example: Noninitial syllables/stress. [M-W]

In your example:

Initial tests were successful but noninitial tests failed.

  • 23
    "Noninitial" is a very uncommon word. This is probably the first time I've seen it.
    – user253751
    Aug 11, 2020 at 13:27
  • 4
    @user253751, Yes, I told the OP to use subsequent at first (I'd probably use subsequent too) but I think the OP needed a different word. Aug 11, 2020 at 14:09
  • 1
    This is a good choice for technical or scientific writing. From the example sentence provided that seems like the desired usage. In casual conversation you would probably get some confused looks with this word.
    – barbecue
    Aug 11, 2020 at 20:18
  • 4
    I dislike "noninitial", primarily because "initial" doesn't always mean "exactly the first". It could mean "the set of items beginning with the first" or even "the set of items mostly near the beginning". It's an ambiguous term. For example: "While the initial runs succeeded, after the fourth run they all failed." makes it perfectly clear that runs 1-3 were successful. That's not the word asked for. "Initial" is not unambiguously "all but the first one".
    – Bacon Bits
    Aug 12, 2020 at 13:27

As has been said in the comments, subsequent is the word.

The tests are successful only on the first run. On all subsequent runs, the tests fail.

In fact you could get away with:

The tests are successful on the first run. On all subsequent runs the tests fail.

Nobody could possibly be confused about what this means. There is no ambiguity.

  • 4
    No ambiguity, that is, taken in context with the "first" sentence. Otherwise, subsequent contrasts with previous, which necessarily includes the first element, but is not by definition a 1-tuple.
    – Conrado
    Aug 11, 2020 at 13:16
  • 1
    For example: "During the third run, the right torsion arm bent, and on all subsequent runs the throttle had to be kept below position 23." Here, subsequent means exactly "from the fourth run forward, including the fourth run itself"
    – Conrado
    Aug 11, 2020 at 13:43
  • 4
    Hey @chasly-reinstate-monica, thank you for your answer, upvoted. :) You are right, but only when one mentions the first sentence. But without it, it is not clear, that the term encompasses all but the first. I can't say: The tests fail on subsequent runs. Also, I could say The tests passed the first 10 times, on subsequent runs they failed. Aug 11, 2020 at 14:10
  • 3
    As I said in a comment, 'subsequent' is a hyponym, meaning 'following any specified element'. OP themself doesn't seem to think this answer close enough. Aug 11, 2020 at 18:42

In computer science, there is a kind of algorithm that works on lists, and makes exactly the distinction between the first and all other elements of a list.

head is the term for the first element.

tail is the term for the remaining list after removing the head.

rest could be an alternative to tail.

I'm not sure that works for your practical case, but it's related because the whole concept of lists is based on exactly the distinction you make.

The terms are used like this in the context of functional programming.
There are shell commands with the same names, working on lines of text files, which are related, but different.

  • 17
    I don't agree that this is universal. Unix shell command "tail" works backwards a specified (usually small) number of lines from the final line in the file, for example. Aug 11, 2020 at 12:04
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    @CarlWitthoft It seems to be mostly in functional programming, when you have a lisp-style linked list
    – user
    Aug 11, 2020 at 13:02
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    I've usually seen "head" and "rest" rather than "head" and "tail". Or of course, "car" and "cdr"... if I'm talking to my university friends and I say "cdr" they'll know what I mean but it's particularly niche :P
    – Muzer
    Aug 11, 2020 at 15:32
  • @CarlWitthoft Thanks, that's a good point! I was thinking of the context of functional programming and did not think about that the terms are used in shell too - in a similar but different way. Aug 11, 2020 at 16:57
  • @Muzer I added "rest" to the answer. I would not understand 'car' and 'cdr' in casual conversation, because I can not remember which one is which. But I recognize I should. :) Aug 11, 2020 at 17:12

While it is apparently not used as much as non-initial, Non-first is an option that is used technically and can be general-purpose:

In the data, we find speakers using HT for producing non-first list items only. (Time and Emergence in Grammar: Dislocation..., by Doehler, Stefani and Horlacher)


Also, Nokia’s big payday is now a non-first quarter affair. (techcrunch article)


Therefore, due to the different location in a channel gain period, the sensing slots could be classified into two categories: first slot and non-first slot, and they are defined as (6). (EURASIP Journal on Wireless Comm...)

The first run was successful, while non-first results varied.

Edit including suggestions (Thanks, @user253751), just to keep keywords for the search engines:

"Non-first quarter" should be parsed as "non-{first quarter}" rather than "{non-first} quarter", making this construction the odd-ball in the three preceding examples. Another example is "Non-first order coupling". Non-x can be ambiguous at times; one wonders if the "non" (negation) is distributed or the "non-first". Anyhow, in the "order couplings" case I think it's fairly clear that the order is: "{{non {first order}} coupling}, or in another notation: Non-{first order} coupling "First order" has a specific meaning which "non-" is trying to negate. That is, check whether the coupling is first-order, and conclude that it's not - rather than checking which order the coupling is, and concluding that the order isn't 1.

  • 3
    I think "non-first quarter" should be parsed as "non-{first quarter}" rather than "{non-first} quarter"
    – user253751
    Aug 11, 2020 at 13:28
  • @user253751 I think so too, but I wanted to include an example of that sort because "quarters" are sequential... Here's another one that is similar, and truth be told the parsing terminology is beyond me: "Non-first order coupling". I'm left wondering if the "non" is distributed or the "non-first" is. Parentheses clarify the precedence in math.
    – Conrado
    Aug 11, 2020 at 13:36
  • @user253751 Anyhow, in the "order couplings" case I think it's fairly clear that the order is: "{non {first order}} couplings, but as I said, I don't know how to explain that without resorting to nested brackets of some sort.
    – Conrado
    Aug 11, 2020 at 13:39
  • Non-{first order} couplings, too, I think. "First order" has a specific meaning which "non-" is trying to negate. I think you would check whether the coupling is first-order, and conclude that it's not - rather than checking which order the coupling is, and conclude that the order isn't 1.
    – user253751
    Aug 11, 2020 at 14:19
  • @user253751 That's right... I'll try to boil that down and edit a bit of it into my answer later, if you don't make a separate one first. At least some of the keywords from this thread should be kept, I think, for the search-engine spiders. Thanks, and Cheers!
    – Conrado
    Aug 11, 2020 at 14:22

Once you've set the context by stating something about the first run, you can use "rest" to refer to all the remaining runs.

The tests are successful only on the first run. All the rest fail.


You could look in a thesaurus for an antonym of initial, but I just did and didn't find much. For what it's worth, in functional programming (e.g., Scala) the first element in a list (or any sequential collection type) is called the "head," and all subsequent elements together are called the "tail."

  • 1
    Not really. In many if not most languages, "head" is an arbitrary number of lines starting with the first one. Aug 11, 2020 at 12:03
  • @CarlWitthoft I'd have to disagree with that. I think R and Python have head and tail functions that work like that, but Scala, Haskell, Erlang, pretty much every functional programming language I can think of have head defined as the first element and tail as the rest.
    – user
    Aug 11, 2020 at 13:06

All tests apart from the first one fail.

All tests other than the first fail.

All tests aside from the initial test fail.


I personally prefer "subsequent" over "noninitial" (a word I've never heard used though I reason it could be parsed correctly by a reader) but I also accept that "subsequent" doesn't stand on its own.

It doesn't mean that one has to use a full introductory sentence though, as the introducton could be via a single word in the same sentence as the subsequent by specifically declaring which test was the initial failure and leaving subsequent to pick up the remaining failures:

Second and subsequent tests fail

This approach also retains the flexibility of being able to vary the number of items that succeed, i.e. declaring the initial failure as attempt number 3, with "Third and subsequent.."


"Repeat tests failed." works. Note that this is different from "repeated tests failed". The latter is similar to "multiple tests failed" in that it includes the first test, though it differs from "multiple" in that the tests are of identical kind.

Another possibility is "followup tests" but that also suggests tests of a different rather than the same kind.

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