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If I wanted to refer to a spatial scale relatively smaller than a kilometer, I might say "sub-kilometer" scale.

However, what is the proper prefix for describing a spatial scale relatively larger than a kilometer?

  • My perceived options: supra-, super-, hyper-... possibly others...

Example:

When describing something occurring at or dispersing across a distance. For example, if a mouse species sometimes travels 0.7 km and at other times travels 1.6km, I'd like to differentiate these dispersal trends: one being sub-kilometer and the other ____-kilometer dispersal

I lean toward supra-, but supra-kilometer just sounds weird when I say it, so I can't convince myself it's the best option.

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    Please show an example usage where you want to use this. Commented Aug 12, 2023 at 20:16
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    For a colloquial tone of voice, I'd use under-km and over-km. For fancy academia, sub- and supra- are fair game. Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 1:34
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    I'd use a suffix if accuracy weren't too important: 'kilometer-plus'. Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 17:31
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    @Yosef, I thought the scientific nature of my example and want for latin prefixes indicated that this is for "fancy academia," but I'll add this comment to clarify that fact explicitly. thanks. Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 2:53
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    The example doesn’t seem to make much sense. However, over and under, and less than and greater than, are available without stretching the language.
    – Xanne
    Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 6:14

2 Answers 2

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There is no need with the metric system for words like "subkilometer" because there are units in the metric system designed to communicate distances less than one kilometer in a standard, precise way. 0.7km is 700m, 70dam, or 7hm.

In general 700m would be preferred because the prefix dam and hm are much less frequently used. To express a possible distance between 0.7km and 1.6km, you may say it exactly like that, as 700m to 1.6km, or as 700m to 1600m. Were it me, I would use 0.7km to 1.6km as it keeps units the same for easier reading.

Using an ambiguous prefix sacrifices precision and accuracy for no good reason. In my opinion, this is especially undesirable for academic writing.

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  • This doesn't really answer the question. They aren't looking for precise distances but distance categories.
    – Fraser Orr
    Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 20:33
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    Yes it does. TLDR answer to what prefix to use is "none". I explained why and offered an alternative which I feel meets the needs of the idea being expressed.
    – R Mac
    Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 20:57
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    That I hate the metric system doesn't alter the fact that R Mac is correct. That's most of the point of the metric system… not that 10 x X is easy, but that the terminology covers such cases. Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 19:29
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I'm not sure that a good prefix applies here. The opposite of sub would be super, but super kilometer really doesn't convey what you want. You might consider:

The mouse traveled kilometer plus distances.

You could even get away with:

The mouse traveled plus-kilometer distances.

Which is probably the best you can do with prefixes -- though it sounds a little contrived to my ear.

Or you might consider:

Mouse A traveled under a kilometer, mouse B over a kilometer.

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