Not a native speaker, I'm looking for something to describe the below:

I have two lists: A and B When I combine A and B (and the direction is important here) then the following would be phrased as:

A => B: A merges **INTO** B

The opposite of that operation would then be:

A <= B B merges **INTO** A

But suppose I need to describe the second operation but starting my sentence with A.


B merges into A, and B is lost in the process. What phrase would correctly describe such an operation?

The lists are:

  • Used in a programming context.
  • Contains both unique and duplicates.
  • Contains a list of "Rules".
  • The lists are not ordered.
  • After the merge, all unique values in B will be in A, and all non-unique values will be discarded (for the operation A <= B).
  • 1
    There isn’t a preposition which would make sense to use instead of into here, if that was specifically what you were looking for; you’d use a completely different verb instead, like subsume, absorb, eat, etc. Commented Jul 9, 2018 at 13:39
  • Thanks Janus, please post an answer so I can mark this as complete, Subsume is perfect :) Commented Jul 9, 2018 at 13:42
  • Consume is what I immediately thought of. A consumes B. But yeah there's like a million others. Depends, really. What is your domain? Context, register? I suppose depending on whether this is formal logic or mathematics or music or programming or psychology or plumbing, they might all have established terms that they use, and they all might be different.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Jul 9, 2018 at 14:04
  • Maybe you could add what you mean by merge into. After reading your question it's unclear what you mean by that, so it's hard to give a term for the opposite. Perhaps you could give two small example lists to show what you mean? I think there might be a more appropriate technical term for merge into. If we know that proper term, that might easily lead us to the term for the opposite direction.
    – JJJ
    Commented Jul 9, 2018 at 17:15
  • The best answer depends on the end state. For example, do the two lists contain all unique elements? Are the elements in order? Can there be elements in common? And if there are elements in common, do they get added up like tubs of sour cream on a shopping list? Without a definition of merge it’s hard to say.
    – user205876
    Commented Jul 9, 2018 at 20:36

5 Answers 5


Going by your updated description: List A accretes List B.

The action is referred to as accretion. It has different meanings in different disciplines, but the common idea is that the original item "grows" by adding something from the new item, with the "rules of growth" being set by the original item.


You could use "intakes" or "includes" in the sense that it "A takes in B". However, these are not antonyms as your title suggests. Antonyms of "into" would be "out of" or just "excludes".




I think it would work to use "Out Of". Thanks!


Considering the last part of your question:


B merges into A, and B is lost in the process. What phrase would correctly describe such an operation?

I would say that A consumes B. It is somewhat metaphorical in this case, but it is related to several senses of the word.


1 : to do away with completely : destroy · Fire consumed several buildings.
3 a : to eat or drink especially in great quantity · consumed several bags of pretzels

Note that subsumes would not necessarily be correct, because there is no sense in which the thing subsumed is actually destroyed (lost) in the process, something which you specified.

  • I quite like consume as well as @user22542 answer of takes in. In the end the it would be written as either A.Consume(B) or A.TakeIn(B). Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 6:57

How about assimilates using definitions 1.2 and 1.3 of the online OED entry for assimilate which are

1.2 Become absorbed and integrated into a society or culture. ‘the older generation had more trouble assimilating’

1.3 (of the body or any biological system) absorb and digest (food or nutrients) ‘the sugars in the fruit are readily assimilated by the body’

This carries the implication that the smaller item loses its identity completely in the process.

Having said that I would say that the process was a more equal one where the two lists merge to produce a new list which has its own identity.

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