Is there a defined rule when to use underneath and when to use above when describing a child directory? I have encountered (and used) both:

Make sure the config file is stored above the web root.

(= outside the web root, not a child of it); also

Underneath the images folder, I have three sub-folders: Photographs, Illustrations and Thumbnails.

But I have heard it being used the other way round, too:

How to open files located under the webroot?

(referring to files outside the web root)

is there a correct one? Does this differ from OS to OS? How to avoid confusion?

  • I really don't understand your question. How does your examples contradict, exactly?
    – Massimo
    May 6, 2011 at 10:47
  • @Massimo I have seen the latter one refer to files outside (=above) the web root, hence my confusion. But the general consensus seems to be that "/home" is above "/home/htdocs"
    – Pekka
    May 6, 2011 at 10:49
  • 1
    @Pekka: I've never seen the last example used with this meaning... it just sounds "wrong".
    – Massimo
    May 6, 2011 at 11:41
  • 2
    That last example is just wrong. The author of the part you lifted it from is not clear in his or her intent. It's like you're asking if there's a proper way to refer to something when citing someone else who can't write clearly or properly. May 6, 2011 at 12:20
  • ("Wrong" meaning it's not "outside the web root") The "proper" way to refer to something as a child file or child directory is to cite it in a clear manner to the majority of people attempting to follow directions. May 6, 2011 at 12:21

2 Answers 2


I have always known it as

  • above = parent directory or higher
  • below/under = child directory or subdirectory
  • outside = anything not in a directory or child directory thereof

I have never heard otherwise. Your two examples don't really contradict, either.

  • Thanks, I fixed the examples. The way you show makes the most sense to me, too, and a cursory Googling places it way ahead.
    – Pekka
    May 6, 2011 at 9:08

I'm surprised that you would ask, actually.

The analogy is with depictions of family trees where the parents are shown above the children.

I too have never heard any other interpretation.

(if someone knows of a family tree shown with the parents below the children it's upside down)

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