If 1 is primary, 2 is secondary, 3 is tertiary, what is 0?

As the question states: 1 is primary, 2 is secondary, and so on.

Given this pattern, what is 0? I’ve heard zeronary and nullary but I have no idea which is correct (if either). I’ve heard zeronary used in software documentation to refer to a set of data points equal to zero but never in actual conversation, and I’m struggling to think of when you’d even be able to use it.


Historically no such word exists. Primary, secondary, etc. come from Latin and ancient Rome. The Romans however, had no concept of 0. The closest they knew was ‘none’ (English translation). There is an old joke about this very question, to which the answer is “nunnery”/”noneary” 🙂

In recent years the term ‘nullary’ has won popularity in certain technical areas, mainly mathematics and computer science. Although the word exists, generally it doesn’t make sense outside the particular field, because “There can be none before the first” (meaning: primary/secondary/etc. are labels you apply in order, if nullary were a word, it would label a thing that isn’t there. But a thing that isn’t there cannot be labeled.)

Source : Link , Question Author : leylandski , Answer Author : Born2Smile

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