I'm not exactly looking for an antonym, however I am searching for a general term which refers to that which the surrogate stands in for. For clarity, I am using the term surrogate to mean to "put in another's place, substitute."

The best I can come up with is "original," as in: "the surrogate comes to occupy the position of the original." The issue with "original," "genuine," "real," and "true," is that it implies a lack of originality, reality, truth, or a genuine-nature of the surrogate.

Is there a word that works better in this instance?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Have you consulted a thesaurus?
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 27, 2019 at 2:14
  • I have, but with limited results. The best terms I could find were "real" and "original," but I don't like that the term "real" would imply a lack of reality with regards to the surrogate. Similarly, "original" implies a lack of originality on the part of the surrogate.
    – user433351
    Sep 27, 2019 at 2:16
  • 1
    Can you explain why "original" doesn't work? Or "genuine", "real", or "true"? ("Surrogate" has a number of different connotations, and we have no clue as to which one you're referencing.)
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 27, 2019 at 2:21
  • Perhaps this question veers away from the linguistic and towards the philosophical, but the issue with "original," "genuine," "real," and "true," is that it implies a lack of originality, reality, truth, or a genuine-nature of the surrogate. Insfoar as the connotations of "surrogate," I am speaking about surrogacy in general, as the ability to stand in for another.
    – user433351
    Sep 27, 2019 at 2:36
  • 1
    "Is there a word for the word of something that serves as a proxy or substitute of another thing without signifying that the thing it is replacing is any more original or genuine that it self?" Well, would it not be so? I can see where you're coming from, but I think that's a sine qua non of the very meaning of the word. Otherwise it's just a 'replacement' and not a 'surrogate', or else some other type of relationship
    – Carly
    Sep 27, 2019 at 4:09

1 Answer 1


If I am acting as somebody's surrogate—or as their proxy, representative, or agent—in some matter, then they are the principal of the matter:

1 : a person who has controlling authority or is in a leading position: such as
c : one who engages another to act as an agent subject to general control and instruction
specifically : the person from whom an agent's authority derives

In other words, let's say I'm a real-estate agent who's involved in the sale of a house. I would act as a surrogate on behalf of the owner of the house, executing the owner's wishes in the sale. But the owner would retain control over the nature of my actions and provide me with instructions. The owner would be the principal involved in the sale. I would represent them and report to them.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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