I am writing a dating website (for example) which allows a person to search for partners matching certain features. i.e "non-blondes in New York".

I am having trouble trying to find the perfect words to use that distinguish between:

  • search criteria that is used for queries like ( location is equal to New York )
  • search criteria that is used for queries like ( hair colour is not equal to blonde )

I am not necessarily looking for purely academic words - because they may not be understood by the general population. Despite that, academic words may end up being the best choice.

Any suggestions?

I have suggested some answers and would be interested to see which are the most sensible choice of words.

Feel free to add extra suggestions. There are probably some really obvious ones that I cannot see from the perspective of the mental trench that I'm sitting in.

  • equasive Criteria
  • inequasive Criteria

  • positive Criteria
  • negative Criteria

  • additive Criteria
  • subtractive Criteria

  • You may find you get more traction by placing "possible answers" within the body of your question, or as a comment below, and allow the respondents to populate answers based on the information you provide.
    – kdmurray
    Jan 21, 2012 at 4:25

4 Answers 4


You are trying to wedge the meanings into adjectives that just aren't natural. I would suggest variations like:

Criteria that are required (i.e. requirements). Colloquially, you might say must-haves.

And criteria that are disallowed or prohibited (i.e. prohibitions) Colloquially a common term in the context of dating would be dealbreakers.

  • or turn-ons vs turn-offs
    – mplungjan
    Jan 21, 2012 at 7:43
  • 'Must-haves' and 'Deal breakers' are words that I would never have thought of, but make a lot of sense. So, thanks for the help.
    – JWEnglish
    Jan 21, 2012 at 10:57
  • inclusive Criteria
  • exclusive Criteria
  • 1
    Depending on your context using the words "including" and "excluding" will work too.
    – kdmurray
    Jan 21, 2012 at 4:24

You may use cover/include for "is equal to" and exclude/excluding for "is not equal to" E.g:

location covering/covers New York.

location including/includes New York.


Depending on the tone of the site, "must have" or "never use" could also be options. You will probably need to select different words for different types of criteria.

Location: within "x" mi of New York Hair: [must be] Blonde Age: younger than 35

By tailoring these inclusion/exclusion criteria to the type of information you're trying to collect the wording will be much more clear for your clients.

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