I'm trying to find a specific word to describe the act of putting the burden of initiating a task upon the person who has an interest in it.

Whereas delegating is giving the task to someone else--a subordinate, for example, what is a word which describes handing the burden of initiating a task to another person?

An example: if someone wants afavor from me, but I am busy and have minimal interest, I might ask the person in question to email me about the specifics of that favor. Instead of having to write it down, I have the other person write it down, I receive the specifics in an email, and the becomes part of my workflow.

  • I would say putting them off.
    – David M
    Mar 9, 2014 at 21:02
  • 2
    I might say "I can help you, but you have to own it" or "you have to drive it". Then I would probably still need to explain that this includes reminding me by email, managing the due dates, or whatever. The verbs own and drive convey to the person that you are not going to control the process. Mar 9, 2014 at 21:09
  • 'I'm fully agreeable, I just need you to give me 24 hrs notice by email of what, and when you want it done.'
    – WS2
    Mar 9, 2014 at 21:15
  • "Firestarter" sounds alright. Mar 10, 2014 at 6:19

2 Answers 2


If you are looking for a one-word answer I would suggest Onus.

The onus is the responsibility for something. It carries a connotation of the burden being placed upon someone. So, I would say:

I will do this, but the onus is on you to get it started.


I very much like contributor David M's answer.

As for a slightly less erudite, yet still quite accurate, expression, as it applies to the scenario you've painted for us, "passing the buck" pretty much sums up what you, as the buck passer, are doing.

President Harry Truman is said to have had an engraved sign on his desk. It read,

"The buck stops here."

In other words, even if he surmised someone was attempting to put the onus on him for something, he would refuse to "pass the buck" to someone else, particularly if he deemed the matter something which only he could or should handle.

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