Is there a verb for replacing placeholder values with actual values in a template?

For example:

The verb for transforming "Hello FirstName LastName" to "Hello John Smith".

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    One possibility is to say you populate the template Dec 15, 2015 at 13:25
  • @FumbleFingers You might consider converting this to an answer, especially given that neither of the alternatives has managed to garner a positive balance. While I personally prefer instantiate conceptually, I think populate is the more common and better understood term for this particular usage. Dec 16, 2015 at 16:09
  • @Chris: Given your profile says you've got a background in programming (as have I), I'm surprised you prefer instantiate for OP's context. I'd see that as what happens when you create an instance of a template class (through an implicit or explicit call to its "new" constructor). In most cases no "value replacement" would take place until some later point when you call a method giving it a data source containing the values to be replaced - which method I would be likely to call populate(), rather than instantiate(). Dec 16, 2015 at 16:17
  • @FumbleFingers I've already covered my reasoning ad nauseam in the comments to that answer. However, populate is probably a better choice --one I would upvote if you had made it an actual answer. Dec 16, 2015 at 16:39
  • @Chris: Sorry - I should have clicked on Show more comments below. To be honest, I never really became expert in using template classes (having developed my own idiosyncratic techniques long before it was even practical to implement such things in most programming contexts). So I can't claim any special knowledge re the IT context, and it's not 100% certain OP is specifically focused on that context anyway. But your point is well made, so given the current state of the votes I'll do as you suggest. Dec 16, 2015 at 16:50

4 Answers 4


One possibility is you populate the template (that's over 1000 written instances in Google Books).

Note that this use of populate is a bit "geeky", and thus likely to be restricted to software contexts. For more general contexts, it's worth noting that Google Books has nearly 9 times more instances of fill in the template.


I think you can use substituted. I derive this from @deadrat's comments above - "The OP's situation seems to call for 'parameter substitution.'"


use or add in place of/replace


In your case,

The placeholders, firstName and lastName were substituted with the actual values "John" and "Smith" respectively.


The verb is

to instantiate

meaning to represent something by an instance. The act of instantiating is an instantiation:

the representation of (an abstraction) by a concrete example (logic)


the process of deriving an individual statement from a general one by replacing the variable with a name or other referring expression

  • 5
    If the context is programming, then instantiation refers to the creation of an object according to a particular defined type. The OP's situation seems to call for "parameter substitution."
    – deadrat
    Dec 15, 2015 at 13:48
  • 2
    The entry expected from the user is something that fits the type "Hello FirstName LastName" . Hello firstname is an abstraction of the type of values expected and the definition fits exactly "the representation of (an abstraction) by a concrete example". It's not a programming question as such. I mean the form could a piece of paper.
    – P. O.
    Dec 15, 2015 at 13:59
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    @deadrat I disagree. Even by analogy to programming, instantiation is entirely correct and apt. You are taking a general type (the template) and creating a specific instance of it. That's exactly why we use the term in programming. Dec 15, 2015 at 14:19
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    @ChrisSunami Look, I don't want to turn into That Internet Guy Who Has to Have the Last Word On Everything (and I don't know who "we" is here), but in programming, templates aren't lists of types; they're lists of names. Instantiation is a term of art for making an object out of a class. I'm done here except to note that I am not a downvoter.
    – deadrat
    Dec 15, 2015 at 14:39
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    @deadrat I'm also a professional programmer, I'm well aware of the term's technical use. However, the point is that the term predates modern programming. The reason we use it in programming is because of its original meaning. Just because a word gains a specialized usage in a field doesn't mean it loses its original meaning. Dec 15, 2015 at 14:53

When referring to a template as a whole:

"Populate the template" "Fill in the template"

Here, the word 'template' should provide some context about there being placeholders that are being replaced.

However, if the verb is used without the word template in the context, it is not as clear that only specific placeholder part is being replaced:

"Populate first name" "Fill in first name"

In such a case, the word 'emplace' might be better: "Emplace first name"

Or maybe 'embed'?

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