I am looking for a single word like "product" but it means that it has monetary value and can be bought, sold, or traded. Specifically I'm trying to write about how Native Americans did not consider land something to be sold until Europeans came. I'd like to say

Native Americans did not consider land to be a _______ (sellable object)

If that's not possible, I could use an antonym instead:

Native Americans considered land to be a ________ (unsellable object)

The words I've thought of, product and commodity, don't quite work. "Product" implies something made, not sellable. "Commodity" connotes an agricultural product or raw material.

  • 7
    commodity--Collins--does not connote only agricultural products: it's anything that can be bought or sold. Search Google Books for "consider land a commodity". Aug 18, 2017 at 0:23
  • 1
    Ware (mass noun) comes close, but *"to be ware" sounds odd to me.
    – Lawrence
    Aug 18, 2017 at 0:33
  • @StoneyB Thanks. I thought it was agricultural because Google defined commodity as "a raw material or primary agricultural product that can be bought and sold."
    – Mary
    Aug 18, 2017 at 0:38
  • That's how it's usually used in financial journalism, to distinguish exchanges which deal in contracts for physical commodities from those which deal in 'paper' commodities--stocks, bonds, and the like--but even there the term includes non-agricultural commodities like oil and steel. Aug 18, 2017 at 0:57
  • 1
    Commodity, ware, merchandise. Consult a thesaurus for more options.
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 18, 2017 at 1:09

5 Answers 5


I'm no expert and I don't feel entitled to answering a question. But since no one has come up with these words, I propose:

property non-property

What concerns Native Americans about land is whether they own the land they live and use.

So it goes, Native Americans did not consider land to be (a) property.

Like it or not, if it's their idea that land is not synonymous with property, then I think that property can be rightly used in OP's sentence.

  • Comments are not for discussion. Please don't incite it.
    – Andrew Leach
    Aug 18, 2017 at 14:14
  • Property, including land is much more general than property that is for sale or exchanged. The word you're looking for is commodity. A commodity is something that is alienable - can be exchanged in a sale or barter. The term "private property", of our capitalist age, is pretty much synonymous with property that can be exchanged. This special attribute of property is not an inherent material attribute - alienable property is a social construct.
    – Drew
    Feb 12, 2021 at 21:36

Native Americans considered land to be communal.

This language is commonly used when talking about differences between the European settlers and the Native Americans.

Tecumseh is quoted as saying that Indians needed to

...unite in claiming a common and equal right in the land, as it was at first, and should be now -- for it was never divided, but belongs to all.

By saying this, Tecumseh is laying out a much different understanding of land use than we have now. He sees the land as a communal resource that is to be used by all. He does not see it as Europeans saw it (and as we see it now), as a resource that could and should be owned by individuals who could keep it as their own and exclude others from using it.


If you scratch the indefinite article in your sentence, you could go with merchandise:

the commodities or goods that are bought and sold in business
from m-w.com

Native Americans did not consider land to be merchandise.


Monetize. It is simply defined as 'to earn revenue from'. For clarity 'revenue' would be similar to profits, which colloquially is money. I understand it wouldn't be suitable in regards to the Native Americans but it ticks all boxes and makes sense. Do with what you have.

  • The word you suggest is a verb and the sample sentence appears to be looking for a noun. Feb 12, 2021 at 14:13


"being something (such as money or a commodity) of such a nature that one part or quantity may be replaced by another equal part or quantity in paying a debt or settling an account Oil, wheat, and lumber are fungible commodities." M-W.

Fungible is both adjective and noun. If used as a noun, it would mean something that could not enter into a transaction.

"Native Americans did not consider land to be fungible."

At least one historian has found "fungible land" to be an incisive economic concept. The following is excerpted from a review of Garrett A. Sullivan's, The Drama of Landscape: Land, Property, and Social Relations on the Early Modern Stage Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998. vii + 292 pp. $39.50. ISBN: 0-8047-3303-1. https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Theatre%2C+Finance+and+Society+in+Early+Modern+England+%26+The+Drama+of+...-a066123114

"Sullivan's The Drama of Landscape, by contrast, tends more toward a methodology of accretion, mosaic or "bricolage" in which a very wide variety of disparate textual materials, including atlases, estate surveys, ballads and pamphlets, legal documents, and of course plays and poems, are joined into a rich tapestry of social description. The book is divided into three broad sections focusing respectively on estates, on roads, and on the city; and within these sections individual chapters consider one or two early modern plays along with a variety of other materials. While the analysis here remains, as Sullivan concedes, within a broadly "new historicist" tradition of literary analysis, the sheer breadth and unexpectedness of its evidence finally allows the book to transcend the technique of juxtaposition and to reach toward a kind of holistic approach. Sullivan calls on the simultaneous aesthetic and geographic senses of his titular term landscape, using the word as a rubrick for a historical process, at once material and symbolic, in which both literal property relations and the ideological valence of land were drastically transformed. In particular, Sullivan follows the discursive traces of a historical evolution in which what he calls landscapes of "stewardship" or "custom" (in which land is understood as manifesting social relations and moral obligations) were finally transformed into landscapes of "absolute property" (in which land is understood as a fungible economic object, and an object of economic development and profit). Here again, Sullivan's three "landscapes" refer usefully both to the changing forms of land tenure, and to the changing ways in which such changes were seen...."

The concept of land manifesting social relations and moral obligations equally reflects Native American attitudes toward land. They did not see land as "absolute property."

  • 2
    Land isn't fungible because it isn't always (or even normally) substitutable. Location is a prime attribute of land. Granulated sugar is fungible. One bag of it looks pretty much like every other bag.
    – Phil Sweet
    Aug 18, 2017 at 3:31
  • @PhilSweet See edits.
    – Zan700
    Aug 18, 2017 at 13:37

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