I'm looking for a word that describes the relationship between a piece of paper and pencil marks drawn on it. Ideally, the word could be used to describe the same type of relationship between a canvas and paint, photograph paper and ink, and so on. However, the word should not imply containing — it should be strictly for things on the outside of these objects. This word should not be used to describe the relationship between a computer and its software or stored data, and the relationship between a VCR tape and its stored data.

Example Sentence:

"All files, documents, or other written, photographic, or other tangible material __________ proprietary information, shall be the property of the Company."

[ __ NOT ‘containing’__ ]

Alternatively, if there is no word that can describe this relationship, I'm looking for a different phrasing that would allow such a description.

The best I can come up with is hold. Does the paper hold the pencil marks on it? Does a canvas hold paint? It still doesn't sound quite right. Contain is a synonym of hold, but that doesn't sound right either.

Related: Does the usage of "material" imply that this is only for things that are most similar to paper or canvas, and can be written on, as opposed to "storing" information, thereby limited the application of this word to things other than complex technology?

  • 3
    You call them "markings." How about "marked with"?
    – vpn
    Commented Aug 5, 2017 at 23:24
  • 1
    'Bearing' would work in some arcane registers, but 'with pencil marks / writing / drawings on it' is far more idiomatic. What is the reason you reject the container metaphor? 'This sheet contains vital information.' Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 0:09
  • @Tonepoet The OP has an example sentence -- it is the second paragraph. I'll try to make it more obvious.
    – ab2
    Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 3:08
  • @ab2 Oh, you are right. My apologies to you Ari. It still technically needs to check a thesaurus as a matter of policy though, although I must admit it is a silly requirement in this case because I doubt a synonym of containing would actually be the desired word.
    – Tonepoet
    Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 3:16
  • "involving" is unspecific; "including" is a possibility.
    – Xanne
    Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 4:33

4 Answers 4


Bearing, as participle of the verb "bear" ...

1.2 Have or display as a visible mark or feature.

‘many of the papers bore his flamboyant signature’


Consider show.

show verb 1: to cause or permit to be seen - M-W

Searching Ngram for appropriate verbs to suit 'canvas (verb) a' yields the following:

enter image description here

Skipping past is and was, the most relevant verb is has. However, this sounds like your rejected containing. Depicting and representing might be too specific to pictorial imagery, which brings us to showing.

Here are a couple of examples:

Your example would then be:

  • All files, documents, or other written, photographic, or other tangible material showing proprietary information shall be the property of the Company.

In CHARM (www.charminfo.org), an ontology for cultural heritage, we use the terms embodiment and material aspect to express this. From the specification:

A representation is the description of the persistent manner in which certain contents are captured on an embodiment, reflecting the forms and characteristics of the former.

A material aspect is an entity that is inextricably embedded into another material entity, named its support, and which has been added to it after the creation of the latter.

In this manner, the piece of paper is the embodiment of what has been written or drawn on it. The pencil marks on the paper are a material aspect of the paper.

Does this help?


Perhaps carry (which happens to be a synonym of bear as answered already) helps here.

"All files, documents, or other written, photographic, or other tangible material carrying proprietary information, shall be the property of the Company."


carry VERB

5.3 Be known or marked by.
‘the product does not carry the swallow symbol’

‘The trains, which all carry the name Thameslink Cityflier, were expected to offer a full service by today.’

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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