I'm looking for a word which describes obtaining a certain property due to being part of a larger whole.


  • a dinner set has a property "color". An instance of a dinner set could be white. Automatically, a dish, part of the dinner set, obtains this property. It has a white color, too.
  • a sweater has a property "material". An instance of a sweater could be woolen. Automatically, a sleeve, part of the sweater, obtains this property. It has (been made of) material which is woolen, too.
  • a people has a property "nationality". An instance of a people could be the English. Automatically, a person, part of the people, obtains this property. He has the English nationality, too.

How would you describe the implicit obtainment of these properties?

The closest I could think of was "inheritance".

  • 1
    How did the sleeve of my all-green jumper "obtain the property" of being green? Is that what you are asking? I am having difficulty understanding exactly what it is that we are trying to name.
    – WS2
    Dec 21 '15 at 18:12
  • Inherit works quite well for me, and chimes nicely with the "property" metaphor. The sleeve "inherits" the "property" woolen from its "parent" sweater. Dec 21 '15 at 18:33
  • If you refer object-oriented programming, inheritance is the standard term.
    – Graffito
    Dec 21 '15 at 22:21
  • @Graffito actually it's not, because the is-a relationship implies inheritance. These are has-a relationships. Dec 21 '15 at 22:55
  • I never heard of a specific term to refer to a "parent object property".
    – Graffito
    Dec 22 '15 at 0:03

This is an interesting question. After some thought, derive comes into mind.


to receive or obtain from a source or origin / to trace from a source or origin

  • Yeah I think that's what I'm looking for. Dec 21 '15 at 18:17

I dont't know if this is what you were looking for, but in some spheres (maths, phylosophy...), this is called the 'transitive property'. In general --and not too technical-- lines, given a, b and c, transitive property establishes that if a is related to b in a specific manner, and b and c are also related, then a and c are related accordingly. Not too long ago, I heard something like this in the TV show called Silicon Valley, from an episode called Adult content. In a scene, EndFrame workers were claimed to be "pieces of sh-t". A certain "he" (I don't remember his name) worked for EndFrame "so, by the transitive property, he is, therefore, also a piece of sh-t." This sounded to me to resemble what you were trying to say. In your case, the transitive property would apply as follows:

  • A given sweater (a) is made of woolen (b).
  • A given sleeve (c) belongs to that sweater (a).
  • Therefore, the sleeve (c) is made of woolen (b) too.

I thought maybe you could work something out from that (what about transitivity or something like that?).


The person or thing has the property as a member of the given set by definition.

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