I'm wondering how best to describe "to give custody" in single-word format. Obviously to "custode" is not a word, but I'm looking for something similar.

What is a single-word for "give custody"?

Background: This is in relation to finding a phrase to use in my software development project. A user clicks a button, and another user becomes a "delegate" or gets given "custody" of a certain activity, I'm looking for a word to put on or name the button. I will most likely use "Delegate", however, I still want to know if there's a single-word for "to give custody".

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    There may be words meaning something like give custody, but I don't think any are cognate with or inflections of custody. Other synonyms for custodian don't seem to have such verbs either. The closest I can think is off the top of my head is deputize, but a deputy is quite a different thing. Since delegate is both the verb and noun, if you want to avoid that use for both then you can use delegation, delegatee and delagator. Also, do you not want to have your button read "Give custody" or "Make custodian"? Also, the "custode" in your title is an archaic or obsolete form for custodian.
    – Zebrafish
    Feb 13, 2019 at 21:46
  • Please define what you mean by give custody. Personally, I see no reason why entrust, as given in an answer, is not the most appropriate replacement. (To me, delegate seems strange, yet you seem to think it's more appropriate; it's not clear why.) Feb 15, 2019 at 7:39

2 Answers 2


I need a little more explanation of the nuance of the situation to decide on which word to recommend.

The first word that came to mind is entrust. Oxford's Living Dictionary defines it as

1 Assign the responsibility for doing something to (someone)

1.1 Put (something) into someone's care or protection

I hesitate to recommend it, though, because entrust is not generally used in a business context.

Delegate is more commonly used in a business setting, but only for tasks. If I am a manager and need to get something done, I can do it myself or I can delegate it to someone I am managing. It means pretty much the same thing as entrust but it carries the extra connotation that (a) it is a task or obligation that is being given to someone else and (b) the task is something assigned to the first person by someone else. It is also only used for tasks and responsibilities, not physical items. I can entrust someone with my computer, but I cannot delegate my computer to them.

Assign is also similar, but is usually for something new, and can also be used for physical objects. However, assign connotes giving someone ownership (to some degree) of the thing.

A customer places an order on an e-commerce website. The software assigns me the task of filling the order. I delegate the task to a trainee I am supervising.

In many cases you could use transfer, which means to move from one person or place to another. The distinction here is that there is no implied obligation on the recipient. If I assign or delegate something to someone, I expect them to take care of it and/or get it done. If I transfer something, I'm giving it to them for them to do what they want with it.

  • Thank you for your suggestions, I'm going with "delegate", fwiw. However, I'd still like to know whether or not "to give custody" has a single-word or nah. :)
    – Möoz
    Feb 13, 2019 at 23:23
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    @Möoz it depends on what you mean by "custody". Simply give by itself means to give custody in many senses of the word "custody".
    – Old Pro
    Feb 13, 2019 at 23:33

Since you asked the question, and you already identified the suitable answer that is delegate (verb) on your own, I'll throw another unlikely contender in the ring. From Oxford:

[with object]

  1. Leave (property) to a person or other beneficiary by a will.
    he bequeathed his art collection to the town

    1.1. Pass (something) on or leave (something) to someone else.
    he ditched the unpopular policies bequeathed to him

For this one, we are looking at the definition under 1.1, of course.

  • Hmm, bequeath makes sense and fits, but I wouldn't use it in business context. Thank you.
    – Möoz
    Feb 13, 2019 at 23:21
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    Bequeath is so associated with transfer upon death that I would not use it in any other context.
    – Old Pro
    Feb 14, 2019 at 4:46
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    @Möoz Not a problem. It's why I first identified that the most suitable word for this context is already "delegate" but since you asked if there was another word, I answered for the sake of answering and not for the sake of dissuading you from using "delegate" since really this is the word you want.
    – psosuna
    Feb 14, 2019 at 19:38

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