I wrote:

Moreover, we don't use the children tag for the dependents. Instead, we directly add them to the node they are dependent on as child nodes.

I know dependent means something like X that depends on Y, but what is called Y? Is there a name for the bold part in my sentence?

Maybe, considering the context, I just need to omit the they are dependent on and use only the node?

Like this:

Moreover, we don't use the children tag for the dependents of a node. Instead, we directly add them to the node as child nodes.

  • parent node, perhaps? Oct 20, 2015 at 11:56
  • I think there is one point that everyone seems to overlook: how is "dependency" (also "depend", "dependent") used in your context? The usage of parent-dependents pair is clear in the context of parenting/family. The usage of target-dependencies is also clear in the context of IT/programming/PM (sometimes target-prerequisites). The usage of parent-children, master-slave, etc. is also clear in other contexts. Because you use both "child" and "dependent", it could confuse your reader unless the meanings of these words are clear or made clear in your article. Oct 20, 2015 at 14:30
  • @StoneyB "head" is what I selected, as the context is linguistic and NLP
    – Ahmad
    Oct 20, 2015 at 17:37

2 Answers 2


For your specific context, If X is dependant on Y, then Y is the dependency.


In normal use, this isn't particularly common, but in your software context, it seems fine to me as both a native speaker and a programmer.

Specifically in XML however, I would use the word "parent tag"

In other contexts you might want to use:

  • provider
  • supplier
  • parent
  • benefactor
  • donor
  • Thank you, as my context is dependency structure in linguistic, I think dependency node works.
    – Ahmad
    Oct 20, 2015 at 13:36
  • Just because it is a correct option, don't assume that all of your readers will understand. Personally I'd go for "parent tag/node". It's more likely to be widely understood. If in doubt, try and explain it to somebody who doesn't have knowledge in the subject and see if they understand. Oct 20, 2015 at 13:37
  • What if I just leave it as it is? Also I added another version to say it in the question, if really using an adjective is ambiguous.
    – Ahmad
    Oct 20, 2015 at 13:41
  • Both of your options are usable. I'd favour the latter of the two, but I'd still favour "parent-child" descriptions. It's something I'm used to as a programmer. Oct 20, 2015 at 13:47
  • I found the word "head" and mentioned it to my answer to this question
    – Ahmad
    Oct 20, 2015 at 17:36

If your context is linguistic and languages, you can use "head" or "governor". for example in the sentence "I saw John", "saw" is the "head" and "I" and "John" are dependents.

  • But your context isn't linguistics. Your context is an XML document. The fact that the XML document contains information about linguistics is incidental. Oct 22, 2015 at 9:15
  • Indeed when I read "head node", I think you mean "root node" Oct 22, 2015 at 9:16
  • @JamesWebster But we don't have a "parent" node, we specify the "parent" of a node as the node containing the "head" for a "dependent". Then parent node is not clear for the reader but he knows the head for a dependent.
    – Ahmad
    Oct 22, 2015 at 9:19

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