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I know this might be a really simple question for those fluent in English, but I can't find the term that describes numbers that make up a sum.

The numbers of a certain product are called "multiples" of that "product". Then what are the numbers of a certain sum called?

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It's probably worth mentioning that I don't think I've ever heard the numbers occurring in a product described as multiples before. I'm not in fact sure what they are usually called - factors is probably a decent name. –  Matt Pressland Apr 10 '12 at 16:45
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Agree with Matt. I would suggest "factors" and "terms", but English is not my first language. –  Jyrki Lahtonen Apr 10 '12 at 16:46
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In $12 = 3 \times 4$, we say $12$ is the product and $3$ and $4$ are factors. In some situations we may specify one of $3,4$ as the multiplier, and the other as the multiplicand. Similarly: in $7 = 3 + 4$, we say $7$ is the sum and $3$ and $4$ are terms or summands. –  GEdgar Apr 10 '12 at 17:04
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I prefer 'terms' but in practice tend to use 'thingamabob', 'doohickey', and 'whatchamacallit' as a catchall to describe something I can't think of the name of. –  Michael Joyce Apr 10 '12 at 19:14
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@nofe: Funny you said you can't find the term... ;-) –  Hans Lundmark Apr 10 '12 at 19:50

3 Answers 3

up vote 19 down vote accepted

According to Wikipedia, "summands", "addends", or "terms" are all acceptable.

Also, I've never heard "multiples" used as the corresponding word for multiplication. Wikipedia lists the words "factors" and "multiplicands" both of which I'm familiar with.

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nofe, I voted for this answer because it also clears-up the terminology for "factors"... –  The Chaz 2.0 Apr 10 '12 at 16:54
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additionally one could mention that "multiples" of a number $x$ usually refers to all $n x$ with some $n\in\mathbb{K}$ (often $\mathbb{K}=\mathbb{N}$). –  example Apr 10 '12 at 17:02
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@TheChaz cool. (btw, what do these votes actually do?) –  nofe Apr 10 '12 at 17:07
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They are for reputation –  The Chaz 2.0 Apr 10 '12 at 17:09
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Terms is by far the most common in my experience. Summands is rare, and I've never heard addends used in practice. –  Nate Eldredge Apr 10 '12 at 19:18

To approach the question from another direction: A "multiple" of 7 is a number that is the result of multiplying 7 with something else.

If your try to generalize that to sums, you get something like: A "__" of 7 is a number that is the result of adding 7 to something. But that's everything -- at least as long as we allow negative numbers, and if we don't allow negative numbers, then it just means something that is larger than 7. Neither of these concepts feel useful enough in themselves that it is worth it deciding on a particular noun for it.

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How about: A "linear combination with a constant term" of 7 is a number that is the result of adding 7 to something? –  skullpatrol Oct 5 '12 at 2:23

"Summands"

$\phantom{\text{(hmm, first time MSE says my answer is too short; P.S., added by mixedmath: either this or adding empty sets is a good way to add to the length ;p)}}$

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I edited your answer, because I think this was the desired effect you were going for. Right? –  mixedmath Apr 10 '12 at 19:56

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