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I'm looking for a good word with which to identify the target of an attachment. For example, if a tick is attached to a dog, I'd like to say:

The dog is the ____ of the tick.

And I'd also like to use it in non-biological (inanimate) cases. For example, if a scope is attached to a rifle, I'd like to say:

The rifle is the ____ of the scope.

Bonus points if the word is somehow cognate with "attach" (but not necessary).

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4  
For objects (as in the rifle/scope example), anchor is a reasonable approximation of what you're asking about. – Dan Romik Jan 21 at 20:01
up vote 25 down vote accepted

For the tick example, the first word in my mind is host. I'm not sure that works as well for a rifle, but it doesn't sound unnatural to my ear, at least.

Well, what do you know? I found evidence it is used just that way for firearms:

Silencers generally increase the accuracy of a host firearm while reducing recoil and eliminating up to 90% of the muzzle signature.

Source found here.

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As an interesting aside, a Google search on "host receiver target victim" gave almost 100% results on technical articles on DDoS and wireless networking and internet attacks. :) – Tim Ward Jan 21 at 19:54
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Bear in mind that Google will tailor its results to you, so if you often do technical searches, this is not surprising. – BoBTFish Jan 22 at 10:15

It really depends on what type of thing the thing is and what type of something it is on.

Host is certainly appropriate for a parasitic relationship such as a tick or a leech on an animal. As indicated, it could also work for inanimate objects, but people might first reach for 'bearer', 'holder', or 'carrier' instead, depending on how they wish to characterize the relationship.

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The main part of the thing would be the base.

base (n.) - A main or important element or ingredient to which other things are added

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"The dog is the base of the tick" "The rifle is the base of the scope" Yep, makes total sense... – Brad Werth Jan 22 at 7:43
    
@BradWerth - 3.1The main place where a person works or stays – SomethingDark Jan 22 at 7:58
    
Yes, I see. A dog is an important element or ingredient to which ticks are added. This is very much the way the word is used in modern English, and sounds very natural. – Brad Werth Jan 22 at 8:01

Depending upon context there are options, mostly engineering terms.

The principal, primary, or major (assembly, structure).

The chassis.

The mother (board, lode, ship). The master.

Also consider:

Equipped - The rifle was equipped with a scope. A scope equipped rifle.

"Host" has usage beyond the lowly parasite as well.

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Might as well add carrier, as in any sort of shuttle that delivers, and also vector, as in mosquitos are a disease vector.

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