Say I have these three statements:

  1. "John likes pasta."
  2. "Mary likes pasta."
  3. "Joseph likes pasta."

For these three sentences with the format "[name] likes pasta", I'm looking for a word for the "[name]" with respect to the fact that this particular part of the sentence is the only thing which makes it different from the other two.

The usage I would imagine is this:

The word of sentence 1 is "John".

For context, the word I am looking for is to be used as a parameter name for a function which takes a string and embeds it into a template string, similar to the following:

function embedInSentence(word_here) = word_here + " likes pasta."

I remember a book I had about cars when I was younger described "exterior identification points" of different models, which could be used to tell that particular one from another model/trim level. It's the closest thing I have to a fitting word or phrase, but it's quite long and doesn't fit my use case – I'm looking for a more abstract term, such as "identification point" but as a single word.

  • Parameter? Key? Variable? ID? Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 17:46
  • @Yosef These seem applicable only in the programming context, so are still useful, but don't address the "more abstract term" part.
    – squ1dd13
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 17:49
  • The naming of computer program variables or classes is considered off topic here. Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 17:56
  • @WeatherVane I'm not looking specifically for the name for the variable, that was simply what started me looking for the word. I only included that in my question as a bit of extra context to go with the first example.
    – squ1dd13
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 17:58
  • 2
    That is stated to be the use case. I am tempted to say that word of sentence 1 is subject but perhaps more helpful would be differentiator – "the thing which makes it different." Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 18:02

1 Answer 1


Something that distinguishes can be called (from Lexico) a


1 Something that enables a difference or distinction to be made.

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