I am looking for a or the French term for the individual resource or item in a statistical sample that does not consist of people. The term should be generic enough to cover, for example, sampled web pages from a website, screens from a web app, screens from a desktop applications and similar things that may be evaluated for their usability or accessibility. ("Accessibility" here refers to "accessibility for people with disabilities".)

When reading articles about statistical samples, e.g. Échantillonnage (statistiques), Qu'est-ce que l'échantillonnage statistique ? or Echantillonnage et précision statistique – Comment optimiser vos échantillons, these seem to focus exclusively on samples from human populations, so they are of no help.

I have considered phrases such as "unité observée dans l'échantillon" (suggested by IATE as a translation of "sample item"), "unité d'échantillonnage" (from TechDico), "ressource échantillonnée" and "unité échantillonnée", but the first one is unwieldy and I don't know if the other ones really fit the type of items in my samples. One of the reasons why I'm uncertain what to choose is that the phrase should also fit into larger phrases such as a French translation of "illustration of sample item [item title/name]".

Or should I simply use "échantillon" in the sense of "specimen" instead of "subset"?

  • Nice question. Btw, what is the relevant English term? Is it sample item?
    – Dimitris
    Oct 11, 2022 at 8:41
  • @Dimitris "Sample item" is what I use in English.
    – Tsundoku
    Oct 11, 2022 at 8:45
  • So, without error on my part, you are searching the French term, if any, for conveying 'sample item'.
    – Dimitris
    Oct 11, 2022 at 8:52
  • @Dimitris When "sample item" is used in the sense of "item in a sample", yes. I am under the impression that the term is also used as a fancy synonym for "example", and that is not what I'm looking for.
    – Tsundoku
    Oct 11, 2022 at 9:01
  • @Tsundoku be sure not to mistake statistics terms for demographics terms. "Population" or "groupe" for instance have a statistical meaning that applies to far more things than human beings. An example here. Oct 11, 2022 at 11:20

1 Answer 1


If one wants to stick to purely statistical parlance, then it is perfectly acceptable to refer to single element of a sample as un individu, even if it is of inanimate nature. Another possibility is unité statistique (see here and here.)

However, it is necessary to keep in mind that sample / échantillon has ambiguous meaning both in English and French:

  • From statistical viewpoint it is a collection of items/individuals sampled from a population
  • In specific fields (like physics, biology, medicine, etc.) it often means a single item / device that is an object of study: rock sample, urine sample, etc. If analyzed statistically, many such samples form what a statistician would call a sample from population.

As a more specific example, I could attest the use in computational biology, where the data taken from a single person are referred to as échantillon, and statistical analysis is performed on an ensemble/collection des échantillons (see also statistical ensemble.)

Thus, referring to a single item as échantillon and the collection as ensemble des échantillons is understandable in most fields - perhaps better than the proper statistical use of terms.

Wikipedia article on Unité statistique says:

Les unités statistiques sont les éléments des populations, dans le langage des statisticiens. On parle aussi plus communément d'individus (les premières statistiques étant des études démographiques).
Selon le cas, l'unité statistique peut être un individu, un ménage, une entreprise, un établissement, une commune, un département, une région ou encore un pays.

Another place to look is the definition by Insee, which is the authority in France when it comes to collecting and analyzing statistical data (Insee = Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques.)

  • Yeah, I think unité statistique is right.
    – Kii
    Oct 12, 2022 at 11:28
  • Thanks for this answer. Just one clarification: would you then write, e.g. "Capture d'écran de l'unité statistique 'Page d'accueil'"?
    – Tsundoku
    Oct 12, 2022 at 12:02
  • @Tsundoku The context is not entirely clear to me, do you mean that chaque capture d'écrane est une unité statistique?
    – Roger V.
    Oct 12, 2022 at 12:12
  • The samples may be web pages or screens in mobile apps. In the description of the sample, we may wish to add a screenshot (or other image) for each page or screen in the sample. (The samples aren't used for statistical purposes; we audit their accessibility.)
    – Tsundoku
    Oct 12, 2022 at 12:20
  • 1
    @Tsundoku la capture d'écran de 'Page d'acceuil' de l'unité statistique or la capture d'écran de 'Page d'acceuil' de l'échantillon . However, I suggest that you ask about specific phrasing as a separate question, since I am not a native French speaker - I am simply more aware of terminology, since I deal with statistical analysis of data in French-speaking environment.
    – Roger V.
    Oct 12, 2022 at 12:27

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