If I inherit something, what has my father done to the something? I've found the word 'bequeathed' but I'm not sure that this is the colloquial word.

I need the word to describe a programming class from which another class inherits. Rather frustratingly, in no OOP papers can I find this word being used in English!

  • The colloquial term for what your father does in his will is leaving [something] to you. This does not work for classes, though, as it is specific to wills and testaments. In programming, the originating class doesn't really do anything, so I don't think there's a word to match what you're looking for, except perhaps extendable or inheritable. Sep 3 '13 at 9:16
  • In some programming languages, i.e. Java, there exist Abstract Classes which are specifically meant to be inherited from. So the class is not doing anything active, but it is certainly doing something passive.
    – dotancohen
    Sep 3 '13 at 9:22
  • I just saw a video in which the speaker says "This class is subclassed by..." (Around 15:40).
    – dotancohen
    Sep 16 '13 at 14:49
  • That fits my earlier statement: the class is subclassed by. It does not act itself, but something acts on it. The subclass is the active party, the superclass merely a passive donor. Sep 16 '13 at 20:58
  • When you inherit, your father, ... rolls over in his grave. ;-) Sep 17 '13 at 3:56

Inherit in this case is not like passing down property upon death, it's more like passing down genes upon conception. In other words, inheritance in OO programming is not like inheriting your mother's antique sofa, it's more like inheriting your mother's blue eyes.

I would use the term passed on (or perhaps passes along), as we say that certain characteristics can be passed on from generation to generation:

The attribute balance is inherited from the parent.
The parent class passes on the balance attribute.

There may be a better word for this, because parameters are also passed, but that's the first one that came to my mind, and it fits better than leave to this context.

NOAD lists this definition for pass:

pass (trans. verb) be transferred from one person or place to another, esp. by inheritance : infections can pass from mother to child at birth

  • Thank you, of the answers so far this is by far the most informative and helpful.
    – dotancohen
    Sep 3 '13 at 11:12

In OOP context, I'd use the word "provides":

Class Mammal provides all the common properties and methods to mammals Class Dog inherits from Mammal and adds canine specific properties and methods


An alternative to bequeath is leave, but I’m not sure that either is suitable for the kind of context you have in mind. You may just have to spell it out.


If you're talking about programming languages, like in Java or C++, we usually don't speak from the 'point of view' of the base/parent class, because it doesn't actively do any 'bequeathing' or such. But if you must, you can use 'give' or 'share'.


"Class A inherits properties from Class B."


"Class B gives its properties to Class A."
"Class B shares its properties with Class A."

  • 1
    I'll just point out that you said base class, which is the term to describe a programming class from which another class inherits. Sep 3 '13 at 9:21
  • ...and that's what I meant. :) Sep 3 '13 at 9:23
  • I am referring to a programming language.
    – dotancohen
    Sep 3 '13 at 9:23

I think the word you are looking for in the programming case is endow.


Above answer about genetic inheritance makes it clear. Along those lines, how about propagating class or progenitor class?

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