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I'm looking for a single verb with similar meaning to gaining, consuming or gathering, but only in a context of information, knowledge or ideas. So the word itself should make clear that I'm talking about immaterial goods. It shouldn't frequently be used for material goods.

Which word in the English language fits that best?

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    "Consume", traditionally, entails a sense of "using up"; that is, once you consume something you no longer have it (which is precisely why we say "You can't have your cake and eat it too"). By contrast, both gather and gain denote the taking and holding of objects, but lack the sense of "making use" (consider "to gain the upper hand" means you now have and advantage, but you have not used it [yet]). In other words, "gaining" and "gathering" tend to increase your inventory, whereas "consuming" tends to deplete it. Information bucks this trend: people consume news. – Dan Bron Aug 13 '14 at 12:54
  • Since 'gather data' and 'collect information' are collocations, I doubt you'll find a word which isn't a metaphorical extension of one used literally. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 13 '14 at 15:31
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I am not sure that there is a precise term but use, though not specific to information or knowledge , as shown Ngram, is quite common in this context.

To use:

    1. To take or consume; partake of: She rarely used her ideas.
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    I am not a native speaker but the usage range of use seems too wide to me. For example, you can use an opportunity as well as use a tool. – danijar Aug 13 '14 at 12:38
  • Yes, it a general term, but very common when talking about 'information' for instance. You may refer to the 'use' of words or to the usage of 'knowledge'. – user66974 Aug 13 '14 at 12:42
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Gain and increase work, I think.

  • I think increase is different from consume in its meaning, for example the water level increases. What I want to express is more like read a book or watch a show. Gain feels better here. – danijar Aug 13 '14 at 12:41
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    Please expand your answer (by editing). As it stands it doesn't explain itself, so is not very helpful. Also gain is implied in the question. – Matt E. Эллен Aug 13 '14 at 12:42
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Some senses of glean are related to farming (eg, “To collect (grain, grapes, etc.) left behind after the main harvest or gathering” and “To gather what is left in (a field or vineyard)”. However, another sense is in use now: “To gather information in small amounts, with implied difficulty, bit by bit”.

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In terms of incorporeal things, I actually think implement might come close. Instead of implementing tools to do something, you more accurately "implement the use of tools". I tried to research this but came up short- can only concepts 'be implemented', anyone...?

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I think "to obtain" will fit here. Example:

We have obtained topographic measurements of the surface of Mars.

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    How can this be acceptable? 'It shouldn't frequently be used for material goods.' – Edwin Ashworth Aug 13 '14 at 14:07
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    @EdwinAshworth Unmarked it as accepted. – danijar Aug 13 '14 at 18:02

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