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I'm looking for an English term to signify when person A does the job (authority and responsibilities) of person B when person B is on vacation. During this time person A is not just a placeholder but is actually expected to perform and advance person B's activities and projects.

I'm interested in a noun referring to the action/process/period itself, the same way as tenure and internship are nouns.

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    Wikipedia: Pro tempore - abbreviated pro tem or p.t., is a Latin phrase which best translates to "for the time being" in English. This phrase is often used to describe a person who acts as a locum tenens {placeholder} in the absence of a superior. I don't know of any special designation for someone in a similar role who isn't a "placeholder", and it wouldn't surprise me to learn there isn't one. Apr 6, 2015 at 21:00
  • I wasn't looking so much to signify the person who does the job but for the action or process itself, the action (a noun not a verb) of doing someone else's job during his/her vacations, the same way as tenure and intership are nouns. Apr 6, 2015 at 21:08
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    Ah. Although there's no ambiguity with I'm deputising while John's away, I don't think During my deputyship I'll have to promote John's pet projects even though I don't endorse them is quite so clear-cut (you can occupy a permanent position as deputy in your own right, as well as temporarily deputising for someone else). Apr 6, 2015 at 21:26
  • @Fumblefingers, I've never heard "deputize" used that way, although I do see it in the dictionary as a valid use. Guess I learned something today. :-)
    – Hellion
    Apr 6, 2015 at 22:08
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    @Hellion: I expect every one of 1320 hits for is deputising for will be that "standing in" sense. And there are even more with the AmE spelling, so it's not just a BrE usage. But I can't really get my head around referring to the period spent temporarily deputising for someone else as a deputyship, because all my life I've only ever understood that to mean the period during which you serve as deputy in your own right.. Apr 7, 2015 at 1:44

12 Answers 12

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You could say that person B is standing in for person A:

to act as a stand-in (a person or thing that takes the place of someone or something else for a period of time (from M-W.com)

or that they are covering for them:

To act as a substitute or replacement during someone's absence (also from m-w.com, v.i. def 2)

or that they are substituting:

to put or use (someone or something) in place of someone or something else (m-w.com again)

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  • Does the action/process/period itself have a noun, the same way as tenure and intership are nouns? Apr 6, 2015 at 21:12
  • Nothing is springing to mind except a slightly humorous application of "stewardship".
    – Hellion
    Apr 6, 2015 at 21:21
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    Also 'sitting in for them'. Jun 16, 2015 at 12:17
  • The term take over also works: She took over the company as a manager while her father was out - I will take this project over, so you'd better follow my orders!
    – A.Cool
    Jan 26, 2017 at 0:52
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One common way is to use the term acting:

Joe Bloggs is Acting Chief Executive while our CEO Lucinda Bucket is out of the country.

The term implies that Joe Bloggs is Chief Executive in all but name, for a temporary period. It can be used as a normal verb too: "While I'm away, Joe will be acting for me."

This term also appears in the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution:

Section 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

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A temporary replacement / substitute?

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  • +1, In my area, it would be common, when first stating who the temporary replacement is, to refer to the substitute as the temp [Job-Title] (less formally, inside the company) - though it doesn't specifically mean person B is on vacation, they could also have retired or any other situation where someone needs to temporarily cover the position. Apr 7, 2015 at 15:48
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A locum:

A locum is a person who temporarily fulfills the duties of another. For example, a locum physician is a physician who works in the place of the regular physician when that physician is absent, or when a hospital/practice is short-staffed. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locum)

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In various committees and other voting bodies, it is common to designate an alternate. In case the primary officeholder is not available, the alternate will fill in.

In American English, several positions use the prefix "co" to indicate this. E.g. co-pilot (fully capable pilot that works when the pilot is unavailable) or co-manager (often in retail, a manager that has all the same duties as the Manager but who may defer if they are both there at once).

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  • "co-" positions typically have duties which are primarily designed to complement those of the primary position they serve as counterpart to, and might only serve as a replacement in extenuating circumstances (i.e. possibly never). I wouldn't use the "co-" prefix to describe a temporary replacement. Alternate is definitely a good answer, though.
    – talrnu
    Apr 7, 2015 at 12:44
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pinch hitter is a slightly colorful/figurative way of expressing this.

(Don't be fooled: its colloquial meaning doesn't exactly match its original meaning in baseball...)

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I think it should be verb rather than a noun to designate the deputy or agent or representative. I think a word like 'deputise' would serve. I too wanted to ask this kind of question. Recall August Villiers 1838-1889), a writer-dramatist of France, an aristocratic lienage, who wrote a play called 'Axel's Castle'; it is notable for a sentence in a romantic dialogue, "Vivre? les serviteurs feront cela
pour nous" (Living? Our servants will do it for us). Will our successors say, "Thinking? our robots can do it for us"?

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    Welcome to EL&U. The first two sentences answer the question regardless of its quality. The rest reads more like a question than an answer. If you have a question, please use Ask Question. Please make sure that you take the tour and visit our help center for additional guidance. Please edit your post.
    – user140086
    Dec 30, 2015 at 7:03
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We refer to such persons as an acting proxy for the person on vacation.

In the same way as a pronoun is a proxy for a noun, and can be replaced whenever needed.

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in·ter·im ˈin(t)ərəm/ noun 1. the intervening time. "in the interim I'll just keep my fingers crossed" synonyms: meantime, meanwhile, intervening time; More

adjective 1. in or for the intervening period; provisional or temporary. "an interim arrangement" synonyms: provisional, temporary, pro tem, stopgap, short-term, fill-in, caretaker, acting, transitional, makeshift, improvised, impromptu "an interim advisory body" adverbarchaic 1. meanwhile.

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  • Hi, welcome to ELU. Since you're referencing a dictionary in your post, you should cite the specific name and edition from which you're pulling this definition. Also, as opposed to just a copy-paste here, it's preferable to include some of your own content here as a "wraparound" to the word you're suggesting and its definition. A short lead-in offering reasoning regarding your choice of interim as the answer, and a similar "outro" serves to (a) give your post useful question-related context, and (b) helps make the answer you're suggesting more your own.
    – freeling10
    Jan 26, 2017 at 3:26
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At my workplace, we call such a person a delegate.

a person designated to act for or represent another or others; deputy; representative, as in a political convention. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/delegate)

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In addition to all the possible ways that that sense can be expressed as others have said above, in Zambia we may express same in more general terms as «cover someone on leave» and «fill in for someone on vacation». A Spanish speaker just asked me same question.

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Succession. As in, succession planning which addresses the inevitable changes that occur when leaders become unavailable. It ensures that the lead's responsibilities will continue to be carried out by identifying and preparing a replacement.

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    Sure, succession planning is a thing. But it's nothing to do with a role being covered while a person is on vacation.
    – AndyT
    Nov 13, 2017 at 16:38

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