How do I refer to an entity from which some other entity depends on?

So I have A and B.
B depends on A, which is why B is a dependent entity or a dependant.
In this case what do I call the A entity? A defining entity?
What is the right way to express that it is something which something else depends on?


I apologize for not mentioning the lack of any specific context which people are asking about. Well, it is so very abstract and there is simply no context defined at all. All we know is that A only exerts some influence over B making it dependent. Let me be even more precise, all we known is that the existence of B doesn’t make sense if A doesn’t exist.

I cannot accept following alternatives, because they imply some context which we don’t have and thus can be misleading:

  • provider (A provides something to B), sorry, nothing is being provided
  • controller (A controls B), sorry, no controlling is involved
  • parent/child relation (A is a parent of B), sorry, no inheritance is involved

There were “precedent” and “antecedent” which imply a cause/outcome relation between things. They are pretty abstract and seem like almost what I was looking for except for the unwanted time substance being involved.

I really like the answer from StoneyB who suggested “governing” or “determining”. Out of all I think determining works the best in a very abstract sense of the matter in question.

Also it was brought up that there is a similar question at EL&U:


Two verbs often used to designate the influence exerted over a dependent entity are govern and determine.

Generally speaking, govern tends to be used of formal, logical or legal relationships, while determine tends to be used of physical or social causation; but they are pretty interchangeable.

For an adjective, then, I suggest governing or determining/determinant. For a noun, determinant will work, but I don’t know of a convenient nominal of govern. If you’re up to using a term beyond its normal extension (which is perfectly acceptable with sufficient context), you could use governor; or you could revive the obsolete synonym governant.

Source : Link , Question Author : Trident D’Gao , Answer Author : StoneyB on hiatus

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