What's a verb that means to make object "x" - not necessarily yours, or anyone's for that matter - belong to "y"?

The context is: a phrase that would mean "make keyword belong to this course".

(At first I thought the verb appropriate ( = making into property) would mean this, but I found out that it means to denote taking something for yourself or allocating without changing ownership).

  • if that's an example of the context in which you want to use the target word, please explain what's wrong with plain old give. Mar 2, 2016 at 14:11
  • @FumbleFingers: give is a technical description of the mechanics and doesn't convey changing owner status.
    – nzn
    Mar 2, 2016 at 14:18
  • @nzn The lightbulb finally went on for me; you don't mean belong in the sense of being inherent, you mean in the sense of property. In that case, the most common expression of that concept in English, even used in formal legal contexts, is transfer ownership, or as a noun, the transference of ownership.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 2, 2016 at 14:41
  • @Dan Bron: yes exactly. But isn't "transfer" assuming prior ownership? See my edit above and you'll agree that this isn't the case and transfer can't be used.
    – nzn
    Mar 2, 2016 at 14:43
  • 1
    @nzn No, I do not agree even if you wave your hands about whether "ownership" is the applicable state. Transference only implies an agent, often but not always a disinterested intermediary, not anything analogous to ownership. It is perfectly applicable to your keyword scenario: "keyword K was transferred to course C". Or any of the synonyms FF suggested: assigned, alloted, etx.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 2, 2016 at 14:50

1 Answer 1


The solution I went with was one provided by @FumbleFingers: "assign".

Seeing as I was dealing with abstract terms ("keyword" belong to "course"), I needed a term that described the act of changing the legal state of entity X from not belonging to entity Y to belonging to entity Y, without reference to any previous state or extraneous mechanism.

Suggestions that I didn't adopt:

"Transfer", because it, by definition required that it previously belong to a different entity.

"Give" was the description of a mechanism that wouldn't necessarily effect the required legal change (as entity X can be given to Y while still belonging to Z).

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.