English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm looking for a single word to describe the place or person an item is assigned to. The context is basic asset management, where you have a list of assets (such as computers, software licenses or consumables) that can be assigned to people or locations. For example, a laptop can be assigned to its user, a location (storage cupboard with spare laptops) or a company (because it's been sent there for repairs).

None of the words I've come up with quite fit all of the above situations:

  • Assignee, Holder or Bearer don't work very well for locations
  • Location, Whereabouts or Station don't work very well for people

Update: I'm looking for this word not only to label things on screen and in a database, but also to make the concept of assigning things to people/locations as obvious as possible. The right word would make this concept immediately obvious.

share|improve this question
So you're looking for either 1) a hypernym of person or place, or 2) you're looking to label a line in a data entry form or a db field so that a user will know what it is. in the first case, the only real hypernym (that I can think of) is 'Proper Noun' except that sounds irrelevant. In the second, just use 'Name or Location' or NameOrLocation. For a db, such a name is evidence that your datamodel might need to subclass into two kinds of object Name, and Location. – Mitch Apr 11 '12 at 15:16
You're conflating two notions: who is responsible for the item, and where is it. You could meaningfully have both of those; you seem to be saying that person trumps location. This is inherently messy, and I'd just go with "assignee" (which works for people and companies; let the supply closets fend for themselves). – Monica Cellio Apr 11 '12 at 15:19
As annoying as this might be, requests for better labels for a table are off topic/way too localized. Of course a good question might have that as initial motivation as long as the ostensible question, the one you expect answers for, are about the English language (more in the direction of the 'hypernym' style. – Mitch Apr 11 '12 at 15:48
I would say whereabouts actually works exceptionally well. Why do you think it doesn't work for people? If you ask me about the whereabouts of your laptop, I could say, "I left it at school", "it's in the cupboard", or "I sent it back to Dell", but the answer could just as well be, "I gave it to Jack", or "Jill has it", or "John found it at school and will be bringing it in a minute", or "here it is, I'm holding it right now". That would be neither ungrammatical nor unusual. In fact, it would be rather unusual if I replied, "the whereabouts are unknown, ask me who has it instead". – RegDwigнt Apr 11 '12 at 17:03
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I would probably go with allocation or assignment.

share|improve this answer

Have you considered assignation?

share|improve this answer
There are unfortunate implications. thefreedictionary.com/assignation – chaos Apr 11 '12 at 17:00
I'm not responsible for implications, but thanks for editing your answer to basically include mine. – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Apr 11 '12 at 17:23
Luckily, it doesn't include yours. – chaos Apr 11 '12 at 18:50

For brevity, you could put -ee for the assignee/location. As noted in etymonline, the two suffixes -ee and -or "came to be used as a pair to denote the initiator and the recipient of an action". But if -ee seems too cryptic, instead try target, which has senses including "reference point to shoot at", "person who is the aim of an attack", "location of the target that is to be hit", and "goal intended to be attained". Technically, either of sink or slot might work, or less impersonally, consider Who/At or Who/Where.

share|improve this answer
Interesting, but -ee is indeed a bit cryptic and probably not widely known. Who/Where would be an acceptable fallback in case there's no single word, although I'm pondering if allocation might work. – Ingmar Hupp Apr 11 '12 at 16:33

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.