This is a simple terminology question. If you have a dropdown list (as an example) with user-defined values, what do you call values such as "All", "None" that you might also have in the list?

For example, I might have a list of names as follows:

  • (All)
  • Bill
  • Bob
  • Susie

What term is used to refer to the "(All)" value? I've been using the term "pseudo-value" but I pretty much just made that up.

Also, just for clarification, I'm not referring to a term that would be presented in the UI (necessarily); just a term for design discussions.

Much appreciated!

  • Any particular theme to the contents of the list? Is the list made up of names or something?
    – rk.
    Apr 18, 2013 at 17:27
  • Could be names. An example might be a search dialog where you can search by various attributes -- e.g. a person's name; a country; a preferred currency. You might want to search for, say, all people in a given country or that use a given currency. Alternatively, you might want to search for a person but you don't know the specific country so you might say "I want to find Bill in any country" (as opposed to Bill in Canada).
    – Bill Dagg
    Apr 18, 2013 at 17:31
  • 1
    I think the term pseudo-value is pretty cool actually. Apr 18, 2013 at 17:33
  • Could this include values like "Changed since last visit", "Popular", and other short-cut methods to selecting a group of values?
    – Erics
    Apr 19, 2013 at 5:05

2 Answers 2


It will most likely depend on the actual content of the list. But some generic suggestions:

  • "catch-all" values
  • "default" values
  • "no-selection-made" values

Personally, I like your use of 'psuedo-value'. So, if your audience is understanding it I would carry on using it!

  • Thanks Chris. "Default" would definitely not work in this case because it might not be. For example, the default search for country might be "United States" but a user could change that to search all countries.
    – Bill Dagg
    Apr 18, 2013 at 23:55
  • Completely agree Bill. I think it's likely going to depend on each specific implementation, but in all cases I can think of your "psuedo-value" name works for me. I'll be interested to see if someone comes up with a better (or even 'correct' / 'standard') term.
    – Chris
    Apr 19, 2013 at 9:22

Pseudo-values is fine. Descriptive values or value descriptions is an alternative, because they don't represent a value but describe values or the absence of values.

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