I'm trying to find suitable non-ambiguous words to describe doing something and something done to it. Doing something could be called an action, but what word fits having something done to it? As an example:

A user can push a button, which means that button can be pushed by the user. So, the user has an action called pushing, and the button has a _______ called pushed.

  • A whole variety of terms are applied suffers/receives/accepts/subjected to/etc. I don't know of a noun, however, which is the equivalent of action.
    – WS2
    Jun 7, 2015 at 10:32
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    I would say the agent of an action.
    – rogermue
    Jun 7, 2015 at 10:48
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    I don't think that 'have' is a typical collocation for 'action'. The user and the button are both involved in the same action, but at the opposite ends of it - one is the doer/performer and the other receiver/acceptor (similar to what WS2 suggested). You could say that after the button was pushed it was in a new state (pushed as opposite to un/non-pushed), but I'm afraid that this could lead us to very deep waters of grammar in which we might drown (so I'd advise against it ;-))
    – Lucky
    Jun 7, 2015 at 11:01

4 Answers 4


The answer to this question will depend on the syntax of the phrase into which you wish the answer to be injected.

The button has a property called pushed

make sense in programming contexts, for example, where the property's datatype would be a boolean (if the button is two-state, either on or off).

This programming example is based on the linguistic fact that the past participle ("pushed") can be used adjectivally to convey the notion of the 'state' of something.

If we abandon the syntax in your fill-in-the-blank example, we could rephrase the statement and say "The button is pushable" or "The button can be pushed".

One of the button's attributes is that it can be pushed.

Strictly speaking, (i.e. in natural language not programming terminology) "the button has a property called pushability". The word "called" wants a noun there, not a past-participle adjective reflecting state which in some circles (e.g. programming) is used like a noun. The naming conventions of programming are sometimes unnatural.

  • I like this answer, but I'd like to point out that in a programmatic context, it's important to note that the terminology can sometimes be interesting. Especially if we're talking OOP, it's likely that the button object also has "properties" and/or "attributes" that are separate from user actions like push, such as its background color, button text, location, and dimensions.
    – Stan
    Jun 9, 2015 at 14:40

The button has a triggerable or triggerable behavior called "push"? The button receives "push" actions? The button has capabilities of reception of "push" actions?

To use more programmatic terms, The button has listeners (or handlers, etc) for "push" actions?

If you are trying to use this in a programming context, you might want to check how it's phrased in the documentation of the language you are coding in. You might even consider asking this question in Stackoverflow.


What's wrong with "reaction"?

"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." (Isn't that the way it goes?)


You question actually had the answer built in it:

action_subject, ActionSubject, 'act_subj` ...

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