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This came up in a programming context. A group of objects, that are nearby another one, was simply called:

nearbys

These could be actual places/ locations or really random objects.

This raised questions in me: Is this nominalization actually valid or used in everyday language use? Also would it need to change the y in the plural form?

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  • @Greybeard Thanks a lot for your feedback.
    – lampshade
    Jan 28, 2021 at 12:47
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    lol. Don't ask about grammar for code. Code should not even try to conform to the correct usage. Stick with simple rules: s for plural. Invariable adjective. Present tense everywhere. That's the only way your codebase will remain clean and usable. nearbyObjects or nearbyObjs would be my suggestion during a code-review.
    – Jeffrey
    Jan 28, 2021 at 18:51
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    'neighbors' is the English word for this. No need to invent something, esp. something ungrammatical. (Also, 'neighbors' has been used in programmnig for decades).
    – smci
    Jan 28, 2021 at 23:39
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    @Greybeard FWIW I have never heard or seen "nearby" or "nearbys" used as a noun, neither in human nor programming language. Jan 29, 2021 at 21:23
  • @TimSparkles I'm quite happy to accept that, but, given (i) the description and context, (ii) the fact that it is memorable and apt (iii) the question was "Is this nominalization actually valid or used in everyday language use?" (and it is), and (iv) the word was coined .c1927 for a similar use - (thus, in 1930, there would have been those who had not heard of it) as I say, I would not object to it. In fact, the other answers, although good, are, for me, not "better".
    – Greybeard
    Jan 29, 2021 at 21:30

6 Answers 6

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Neighbors (UK English neighbours) would be more usual.

Merriam-Webster defines neighbor as a noun as "one living or located near another".

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    This term fits very well in both general usage, as well as the specific programming context. Many machine learning methods or other statistical techniques use the concept of the "neighborhood" of a sample - this encompasses samples which are "sufficiently close" to the sample in question to be able to make some inference. These sufficiently similar samples can simply be called "neighbors". Jan 28, 2021 at 19:05
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    This is a good example of why programmers should take a discrete math course, so they're familiar with standard terminology like this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neighbourhood_(graph_theory) Jan 29, 2021 at 1:57
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    @DanielR.Collins I'm not sure whether I agree with the idea that something must be named after a mathematical expression only because something related exists for example in graph theory. Finding a real word name for a property might be better suited and readable then using mathematical terms. In this particular case there might be an overlap though. ;)
    – lampshade
    Jan 29, 2021 at 10:21
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To answer the specific questions, OED does have nearby as a noun, and its plural is nearbys, but it doesn't mean "a nearby place". It means a futures contract which is nearing maturity.

Stock Market.

A nearby futures contract (cf. nearby adj. 2). Usually in plural.

1980 Times 30 Dec. 16/6 Wall Street... Cotton futures eased from strong opening levels to close with gains of 1.17 to 0.75 cents in nearbys.

The adjectival reference says

  1. Stock Market. Of an option or futures contract: nearing maturity; spec. that expires in the next month of active trading in that particular type of futures. Cf. nearby n. [quoted above]

That said, you can certainly refer to nearby places as nearbys within your program; the context should make the meaning clear. If this is going to be a user-facing term, then it might be best to come up with another word which I'm sure other answers will be able to supply. Nearby as a noun is a jargon term not in a general use.

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  • Thank you very much for your input. And yes, the actual wording in the UI will be something like "nearby objects".
    – lampshade
    Jan 28, 2021 at 12:47
2

Proximate:

adjective

next; nearest; immediately before or after in order, place, occurrence, etc. close; very near. approximate; fairly accurate. forthcoming; imminent.

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/proximate?s=t

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If we are talking about objects, I would concur with Stuart and suggest neighbors (UK: neighbours) as a more widely accepted term to use.

If you want something a bit broader, then perhaps surroundings will suit you better:

Surroundings

: the circumstances, conditions, or objects by which one is surrounded:

But new research into the health effects of our surroundings is spurring the development of facilities that feel more residential.

I don't know much about your programming context but I can imagine something along the lines of:

Be careful when editing parameters for these objects as they can have unexpected effects on its surroundings

At the end of the day, this is still relies on context, but it is at least a more common English term.

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    Surroundings is far more abstract than neighbours though.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jan 28, 2021 at 11:34
  • He did say that the term could be applied to a wide range of things including "really random objects", which is why a more abstract term might be suitable. Having more context details would really have helped here. Jan 28, 2021 at 11:50
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    @LucasArraes The Oxford online dictionary lexico.com/definition/surroundings defines "surroundings" as "The things and conditions around a person or thing." The OP's "group of objects" does not include any "conditions," so "surroundings" gives the wrong idea to a native English speaker. "Neighbo(u)rs" is a perfectly good existing English word so there is no need to search for or invent another one. In fact IMO "surroundings" is grammatically plural, but semantically it is a singular (collective) noun.
    – alephzero
    Jan 28, 2021 at 19:53
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This came up in a programming context. A group of objects, that are nearby another one, was simply called: “nearbys”. These could be actual places/ locations or really random objects. This raised questions: 1. Is this nominalization actually valid or used in everyday language use?

It is common to use nominalised adjectives:

“The sick, the lame, and the lazy came begging for money.”

In their adjectival state, they represent an ellipsis of their plural noun (above it would be “people”) but are usually uncountable as they describe the defining characteristic of an homogenous generality. (The sick = all who are sick)

*“The sicks, the lames, and the lazies came begging for money.”

However, words that commonly function as adjectives can function as common nouns and are countable:

“See those red balls and the blue ones? Give me the red.”

“See those red balls and the blue ones? Give me a red.”

“See those red balls and the blue ones? Give me the reds.”

In your example, nearby is countable, and thus a common noun.

Also would it need to change the y in the plural form?

No. the spelling "nearbys" seems most useful to prevent the pronunciation of nearbies as "nearbees".

The word, as coined and defined, is good: it's meaning is clear and apt. I have no problem with it.

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To complete Stuart F's answer to go with neighbors, the noun "neighborhood" can be used. Although this is the whole set of places that is near the point being talked about, so the word doesn't evoke the individual places in the set.

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