I'd like a good word for "current item in a succession of items".

Let's say I am looking ahead, towards my successor. Back behind me, I can also see my predecessor. What am I?

I'd hate to use the overly-verbose "current object of focus among a succession of such objects", and yet "current" doesn't quite cut it either. "Currentssor"?

The context is programming (coming up with descriptive variable names) but I'm really interested in what's true in general.

  • Are you thinking in terms of accessing records in a database table or file? If you are the most usual term is 'current row' (or line or record) – BoldBen May 19 '18 at 10:17

I think incumbent is what you're looking for.

holding an indicated position, role, office, etc., currently: the incumbent officers of the club.


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  • I like this answer, and I've up-voted it, but perhaps "one sitting" (or, "sitting item") should also be considered (as in "a sitting president"). – Hexagon Tiling Mar 9 '12 at 23:32

A locus is the position of a gene on a chromosome.

As part of a sequence, a locus has both predecessor and successor (either of which, as in any sequence, can be null).

When talking about, say, a linked list, I find it more elegant and concise to say the locus of the list iterator rather than the node to which list iterator is currently pointing.

Commenters have pointed out the hazards of borrowing an overloaded term like locus; if you want to use a more standard term, current element is well-understood.

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    I agree with locus, though just current is fine. In the context of iterators, referent is perhaps more appropriate, as an iterator is a generalised pointer. – Jon Purdy Mar 9 '12 at 7:43
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    I would caution against the use of locus, which has a different meaning in mathematics (related in that both refer to position, but in mathematics a locus is a set of points which have some particular property, not a single point in a sequence) – John Bartholomew Mar 9 '12 at 10:21
  • Jon, referent seems to be what I was looking for. Care to submit it as an answer? – machine yearning Mar 9 '12 at 17:20

You are a referrer referencing your predecessor and successor http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/referrer

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    That's a bit of an "out of the box" thinking. – Mari-Lou A Feb 24 '15 at 19:46

'contemporary' is the word !!

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  • Please see how the other answers have answered the question and explain why this is the word. – Andrew Leach May 19 '18 at 9:50

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