Consider the figure below,

| A
|   ----------
|  | B
|  |   --------
|  |  |  C     |
|  |   --------
|   ---------------

what is called "B"?

  • the closest container of C
  • the direct container of C
  • the first container of C
  • you suggest

It is not actually the parent.


Since there are three containers, you could describe them easily this way:

A) The outer container
B) The middle container
C) The center container

Note that you could also refer to C as the innermost container.

You could also refer to B as the second container, since it is the second container from the outermost container A. If you want to be very clear when using "second container", you could describe it as "the second container in" or the "second container from the outside". "Second container in" would be used more commonly as it is shorter and easy to understand.

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  • What if there were four containers? – J.R. Jun 25 '15 at 22:17
  • @J.R. Call it container B. ;) – user20827 Jun 26 '15 at 4:36

These are sometimes called nested containers.

B could be called:

  • the second container in (in implies counting from the outermost container)
  • the second container out (out implies counting from the innermost container)

(In your example, the "second container in" and the "second container out" happen to be the same container, because there are only three containers. But in a set of six nested boxes, B would be the second container in, and E would be the second container out.)

You could also call it the penultimate container, if you wanted to use a fancy word. Penultimate means "second to last".

If you wanted to reference container B in relation to container C, I would recommend the word directly:

B is the container directly outside of C; C is the container directly inside of B.

One meaning of directly is:

directly (adv.) with nothing or no one in between; exactly in a specified position

(definition from NOAD)

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I would say that B is the immediate container of C. This is true no matter how many other containers are inside of C or outside of B.

see senses 1(a) and 3(a).


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