Is there a word to describe using one thing as if it is for another purpose? For instance, Chaplin handling his cane as if it's a pool-table cue stick, or someone using a racing hurdle as a clothesline, or a bird using a stick as a fishing pole?


A common usage would be substitute. Chaplin substituted a cane for a pool cue. Clothesline was substituted for the missing hurdle.

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The connotation is usually not so light, but for the cane:

misappropriate - to put to a wrong use.

It is more often used in that sense for ideas and not objects.

You could also say it's reappropriation in the case of the clothesline. Appropriate is a verb meaning "to authorize for some specific purpose," so to reappropriate would be to set aside for a new purpose.

Again, reappropriation is not generally used for objects. You hear it used to describe slurs being reconnotated into compliments.

I would not find it out of line, though, to say that the cane is misappropriated and the clothesline is reappropriated.

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I think the word you're looking for is repurpose, which means adapt for use in a different purpose.

Source: Oxforddictionaries.com (http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/repurpose)

For example, you might say that the bird repurposed the stick to use it as a fishing pole.

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