e.g. If I am an Amazon affiliate, what is the term for Amazon's relationship to me?

  • As an Amazon affiliate, what's exactly your functions/role?
    – Nora
    Jul 24, 2012 at 16:47
  • 2
    In the title, I think the either the term reciprocal or obverse might be better than inverse
    – bib
    Jul 24, 2012 at 18:33

5 Answers 5


I'd go with parent company.

A parent company is a company that owns enough voting stock in another firm to control management and operations by influencing or electing its board of directors.

Due to the fact that you're looking for a term that describes an independent affiliate, i.e. someone who is not controlled by the parent company, this wikipedia link suggests appropriate names for the four involved parties. The first one matches your position.

The industry has four core players: the merchant (also known as 'retailer' or 'brand'), the network (that contains offers for the affiliate to choose from and also takes care of the payments), the publisher (also known as 'the affiliate'), and the customer.

  • 1
    Except that I'm not owned, operated, or controlled by Amazon. I'm essentially a reseller more then anything else, so I guess I'm looking for a more appropriate term than, uh, resellee. Jul 24, 2012 at 14:44
  • @JordanReiter Then you're maybe just a customer and not an affiliate. As far as I know affiliate connotes a direct connection, such as being subsidiary company or branch office. If you're independent then you're not an affiliate, are you?
    – Em1
    Jul 24, 2012 at 14:45
  • If so, I'd go with supplier, provider or distributor. I like the latter one.
    – Em1
    Jul 24, 2012 at 14:51
  • 1
    It's the term that Amazon and equivalents use and is related directly to affiliate marketing where "affiliates" are rewarded for bringing in customers: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affiliate_marketing Supplier or distributor would suggest that I'm the retailer, when in fact that is still Amazon. Jul 24, 2012 at 14:52
  • 1
    @JordanReiter OK, I am stumped. But you should amend your question and include these details since they seem not to be obviously.
    – Em1
    Jul 24, 2012 at 14:58

Affiliated companies are generally neither parent nor subsidiaries to each other, but share some common linkage, as a common parent upstream (not necessarily at the same level of parentage).

Usually the name given to the related company of an affiliate is affiliate. While there may be a number of possible relationships that describe the activity that Amazon may do to or for you, those probably complement your affiliate relationship.

  • "Affiliates" can be peers, but the word is also applied to the subordinate in a superior/subordinate relationship. So I think this answer is correct but incomplete. (If I new what the superior was called in the sup/sub case, I'd post my own answer, but I don't.)
    – Jay
    Jul 24, 2012 at 17:00
  • I didn't mean to suggest that affiliates had to be peers. Rather they can have relationships not unlike uncles, cousins, both first and once or more removed, nieces, etc. They generally are not grandparents, children, etc.
    – bib
    Jul 24, 2012 at 17:10
  • But I'd think that if they are not peers, you wouldn't also call the superior an "affiliate". Well, maybe you still could.
    – Jay
    Jul 25, 2012 at 14:30
  • This is indeed the correct answer, if one takes the word in its standard meaning. It appears, though, that it functions in this context as some kind of a technical term.
    – jsw29
    Nov 25, 2019 at 1:47

Wikipedia suggests "merchant" for the company with whom the purchaser actually performs the transaction. To my mind, that's a reasonably intuitive term for most purposes.

  • "Merchant" is a very general term that can apply to any retailer. Nothing about the word merchant implies that it has affiliates.
    – Jay
    Jul 24, 2012 at 16:58
  • @Jay True, but fortunately in my case the context is given, as in "an affiliate and its merchant/retailer". Jul 24, 2012 at 18:42
  • @Jay Context is everything. I agree that absent context it doesn't imply that the merchant has affiliates. In the context of this relationship, though, it denotes the key element, which is that the transaction is actually conducted with the merchant. The affiliate doesn't perform the financial transaction or the fulfillment. Aug 3, 2012 at 21:52

Affiliation seems like a mutable relationship to me, like brotherhood. If , a male, are my brother, then I am your brother. That means that the business is your affiliate. The problem is that the people in the business world who pick up words like this hardly ever pick up a dictionary.


EXILE. An affiliate is an accepted ally, welcome in partnership and gain; one who is the opposite of that is cast out, sent into exile.

OR --- STRANGER. Not as strong because stranger can be the opposite of almost anything having to do with personal interaction.

  • 1
    The question was about the use of affiliate in a particular context, not generally.
    – jsw29
    Nov 25, 2019 at 1:38

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