How would you call the process of dividing something into smaller groups with the aim of understanding the subject better? E.g. the botanists divide species of plants into families in order to understand both their distinct and common properties.

In data science we call it "clustering", but that sounds too technical and not very elegant.

Is there a word to describe that process? Maybe something along the lines of "sorting out"?

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  • Hi, Eerik. What synonyms have you found? Please include a sample sentence of how you would use the word for a [single word request].
    – livresque
    May 14 at 1:30
  • 1
    I have edited out a small error in the example. Botanists divide families into genera, and genera into species.
    – Anton

2 Answers 2


The general term for this process is analysis.


the act of studying or examining something in detail, in order to discover or understand more about it, or your opinion and judgment after doing this:

the act of examining a substance, especially by separating it into its parts, in order to discover what it is or contains:

the process of studying or examining something in an organized way to learn more about it, or a particular study of something

Other definitions are similar, and make clear that word relates to the decomposition of an issue into parts so as to understand the relation between them. It is the opposite of synthesis, which combines parts to form a whole.

Thus we have the examples of mathematical analysis or linguistic analysis, amongst many others. In each case, the main subject is broken into separate themes so as to aid understanding of the whole.


Roughly speaking, analysis deals with approximation of certain mathematical objects--like numbers or functions--by other objects which are easier to understand


Traditional areas of linguistic analysis correspond to phenomena found in human linguistic systems, such as syntax (rules governing the structure of sentences); semantics (meaning); morphology (structure of words); phonetics (speech sounds and equivalent gestures in sign languages); phonology (the abstract sound system of a particular language); and pragmatics (how social context contributes to meaning).


It is sometimes called divide and conquer. At least in computer algorithms.

Data Structures - Divide and Conquer

In divide and conquer approach, the problem in hand, is divided into smaller sub-problems and then each problem is solved independently. When we keep on dividing the subproblems into even smaller sub-problems, we may eventually reach a stage where no more division is possible.

  • The example is botanical. What you suggest seems quite inappropriate.
    – David
    May 14 at 18:50

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