What is the act of making something ownerless?

All I've seen is to "declare something ownerless".

However, in this statement one isn't so much as announcing as he is transferring something property. Moreover, if one wants to discuss his act of transferring, it wouldn't make sense to use the word "declare" (i.e "his declaration of making this item ownerless was ineffective" sounds like a mouthful).

  • Both Monica Cello's and Gnawme's answers are good for the idea of giving up a claim that you have. But neither addresses the idea of asserting that property that you never had a claim to is, in fact, ownerless. This might mean challenging someone else's claim, or someone in authority, a judge, for example, declaring that there is no valid ownership on record. I'm not sure which the poster is looking for and if the latter, I don't have an answer, just pointing out that the existing answers may be incomplete.
    – Jay
    Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 21:52
  • Possibly related: Is there a word for something that does NOT belong to someone? Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 22:02
  • 2
    Perhaps "disown" is the word you're looking for? Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 22:21
  • @jay The question is about property that you did own but you know want to ?disown?. Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 22:57

3 Answers 3


A word that says it all is renounce:

renounce, verb : to announce one's abandonment of the ownership of : give up, abandon, or resign usually formally (something possessed) [MW]


You can abandon something (or your claim on something) or release something into the public domain (moreso with IP than physical items).


Slaves can be freed by their "owners."

verb ( frees |friz|, freed |frid|, freeing |friɪŋ|) [ trans. ] make free, in particular

• from captivity, confinement, or slavery : they were freed from jail.

  • 1
    And emancipate is a more legalistic word for this. Commented Jan 26, 2012 at 16:43

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.