What's a word that means "common element"?

Cars and Bikes share the common element that they are both wheeled vehicles.

  • 3
    When you say "are both" it is already implicit that the they have something in common. Therefore you could write simply Cars and bikes are both wheeled vehicles.
    – b.roth
    Dec 23, 2010 at 13:39
  • 2
    @Bruno: in which case "wheeled vehicle" is a hypernym of "car" and "bike".
    – RegDwigнt
    Dec 23, 2010 at 14:37

7 Answers 7


Linked? I'm not sure that a single word gives that concept merit. I know that a part of the standard IQ test is to give two words and ask how they are similar. It starts easily, like bike and car (wheeled, mode of transportation, etc) and get progressively harder. If one tries, one should be able to come up with a commonality between any two concepts.

  • 3
    Of course, now that I re-read my answer, I suppose that commonality = "common element"
    – Jeff
    Dec 23, 2010 at 13:10
  • Ahh so stupid. Before I asked this question I looked up commonality in the dictionary and swore that it explicitly said that commonality did not mean this. Of course now that I look in the dictionary it says that it does mean this. WTF was I thinking.
    – Mark
    Dec 23, 2010 at 15:56

One option is maybe Commonality . It could possibly be worded as :-

Cars and Bikes share the commonality of being wheeled vehicles

Another option would be to use the word Denominator

However, that still wouldnt be one word as the usage would be Common Denominator


Also related is the more mathematical/algorithmical term 'superset'. Vehicles are a superset of bikes and cars, in that they are both types of vehicles, but there are yet more vehicles types beyond the two.


As a programmer, I have to answer Generalization. I'm sure there must be a better word though.

  • Along the same lines, there is "abstraction", but I think "commonality" as suggested by Jeff is closer to what the OP described. Dec 23, 2010 at 14:25

Like a shared trait? An attribute?

They are "similar"? or that they share X and X is defined to mean "noun. common element" ?

I'm aware it's the latter, I'm just trying to brainstorm and potentially help :)

"They share a similarity" perhaps?


In this case, element could be replaced by

  • attribute
  • characteristic
  • feature
  • quality
  • trait


esp., @chim; in programming, a class defines all objects that share a commonality. class: wheeled vehicle object: car, bike, ... element/member of a class also refer to the object

I believe this concept is used in all scientific terminology in general (zoology, botany, demographics) with slightly different meanings - think it has to do with what the scientists call taxonomy.

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