Types and Categories of the General Kind

by J. W. Rider

System analysts deal with a wide variety of information. A frequent stumbling block is trying to distiguish between similar things by some anonymous feature. After drawing distinctions by rather arbitrary type or kind, the impetus is lost, and progress slows considerably. Whether you are trying to name states in a system model, to determine class attributes and properties in a computer program, or to define a schema in a new data-base application, the generalized category listing can spur the mental processes, and you can add clarity to fuzzy concepts.

Particular disciplines may have additional terms with very specific definitions. All the terms selected for this listing were chosen because the meanings had applicability across a number of disciplines. While many words have a canonical definition, each entry has another flavor when used outside the conventional approach. For example, degree can refer to temperature, measures of angles, levels of achievement in masonic organizations, or to the complexity of polynomial expressions, among other things. Feather means something entirely different to a biologist than it does to an aeronautical engineer, and is something completely unrelated to airborne phenomena to the graphic artist.

Users should avoid the following overused and over-generalized terms: category, class, kind, and type.

Prefer a more specific term in lieu of a general term.

Terms may be tailored to a specific application by qualifying before or after the generic term. Additional terms may be created by combining two generic terms together, or by prefixing terms with the likes of "anti-," "co-," "inter-," "meta-," "pre-," "post-," "sub-," "super-," or "trans-." Don't get carried away. Too many prefixed terms can hinder your intent by obscuring the meanings.

Values for the terms are unspecified, but may be gathered from such domains as characters ("A," "B," "C," ), cardinal numbers (1, 2, 3, ...), ordinal numbers (first, second, third, ...), real numbers, measurements, percentages, complex numbers, vectors, matrices, tables, graphic images, discrete enumerated names (for example, month may be "January," "February," "March," etc.), user-defined strings (as would often be the case for something like name), or free-flowing text (as might be done for description).

Don't see a term that you've found useful? Please, submit it for consideration. Instructions are at the end of the page.

Alphabetic Listing of General Categorizations


ability absorptivity acceleration accomplishment achievement acidity acreage act action activity actor address affiliation age agency aim air alarm album alert alignment alliance altitude amount amplitude anchor angle answer appearance appendage appendix approach apron arc arch area arena argument arm aroma arrangement array artery ascent ascension aspect assembly assemblage association atmosphere attachment attenuation attitude attribute aura author average azimuth


back background band barb base basis beam bearing behavior belt bend bias bill bin bind blade block blood body book boot border bore bound bounds boundary bow bracket branch brand breadth breed bristle building bumper bunch bureau


cabin calendar caliber call cap capability capacitance capacity cardinality case cast caste category cause ceiling center certificate certification chain chair chamber chapter character characteristic charge check choice chord circle circulation circumference clasp class classification clearance clock cloister cluster coalition code coefficient coil collar collection college color column combination comment company compartment comport composition composure compressibility concentration condition conditioning conduct conductivity cone configuration congregation congress consistency constant constellation constitution constraint construction control convention corner corporation corps correction corridor course cover crease crew criterion crowd crown cuff curb current curve cut cycle cylinder


data date datum day decade deck declaration declination deed deflection degree denomination density descent description department depth desk detachment deviation device diagonal diagram diameter difference dilution dimension direction discharge discipline displacement display disposition distance district division document documentation domain drag dress duty dwell dye


ear echelon edge effect elasticity element elevation elongation emblem emission end energy enthalpy entropy enumeration envelope environment eon epoch equation era error estate exception exhibit expression extent exterior extremity


fabric face facet facility faction faculty fashion family fan feat feather feature feel fiber field figure file fill filter fin finish flair flame flammability flap flavor fleet flight flock floor flow flux folder folio font foot force foreground form format formation formula fraction fragment frequency friction fringe front function fur


gain gang gate gauge generation genre genus glove goal grade gradient grammar graph gravity grid groove ground group grouping guard guide gutter


half-life hall hand handle hardness harmonic harmony hatch head heat heaven heel height hem herd hole hood hose hour house hub huddle hue humidity


identification illumination impedance imperative incline inclination index indicator inductance influence input inscription inset intensity interior interrogative interval ionization iteration


jacket job


key kin kind kingdom knot


label lamp lane language lapel latitude law layout lead leading leaf leg legend length lesson letter level lever life light limb limit line lineage link load locale locus lock logic longitude look loudness luminance


make makeup manner margin mark marking mass mast material maw maximum mean meaning measure measurement median melody member meridian message meter method midpoint minimum minute mixture mobility mode model modulus moment month mood motion motto movement


name narrative nature neck neighborhood node noise norm normal notch notice notification number


object objective odor office offset operand operation operator order ordinal ordinality ordinate organization origin ornamentation outlook output


pace pack pad paint panel par paradigm paragraph parallax parallel parent part partition party passage patrol pattern paw pedal pelt performance period perimeter permeability permutation persistence person persona personality phase piece pier pin pillar pitch placement plan plane platform plug plume pocket point pointer pole policy pool porosity port portion portrait pose position posse post posture potency potential pouch power practice precinct predicate preface pressure principle print procedure proceeding process product profile progression projection property proportion province purpose


quadrant quality quantity quantum quarter question quill quotient


radioactivity radius range rank ranking rate rating ratio reach realm recipe reflectance refraction region relation remainder report residue resiliance resistance resistivity response result revolution rig rim ring rise role roll room root rotation roughness round routine rule rush


sail scale scape scene scent schedule schema scheme school scope score seal seam season seat second section sector seed segment selection semester sense sentence sequence serial series session set shade shadow shaft shape sharpness sheath shell shop shoulder side sight sign signal signature size sky slant sleeve slice slide slope smell socket solubility solution song sort soul sounding source space span species spectrum speed sphere spike spine spiral spirit squad squadron stack stage stamp stance standard standing state station status statute step stiffness stimulus stitch strain strand strap strength stress stretch string strip stripe stroke structure style subject succession suit suite sum surge surface swarm sway sweep swell switch symbol syntax system


table tail tangent task taste team technique teeth temperament temperature tempo tension term texture theme threshold thrust tide tilt time tint title toe tolerance tone tooth top topic total touch tower toxicity track trail trait transmittance trigger trim trimester troop troupe tube tune tuple turf turn twist type


union unit usage use user utility


valence value valve vantage vantagepoint variation variety vein velocity vent verse version vibration vicinity view viewpoint viscosity vision visor voltage volume


waist wave wavelength way wedge week weight wick wing wire word work


yard yardstick yarn yaw year


zenith zero zone


Submit your ideas for additions to the list at categories@jwrider.com.

Keep in mind that the best choices for terms have different meanings in different fields. Successful submissions will include examples where the terms are used in different fields.

The custodian of the list makes the final determination for the constitution of the list.

Webcrafted by J. W. Rider
JWR 020610