Is there a (different) word that has the same relationship to capacity as resize has to size?

Edit in response to comments: I'm looking for a different word for capacity because I need to make a distinction between changing the size of something and changing its capacity.

The situation originally came up as a software term as an answer mentions, but I'd be more interested in an answer that could work in other situations as well. (E.g. the size of a container is always bigger than its capacity in real life; I can change the capacity of many things without changing their size. Exactly the reverse in software.)

It may well be that there is no such word, in which case that's also a valid answer.

  • Is the "size" in your case a noun? In which case the relationship is "changing it from what it was to something else?" So you want a verb that describes changing the capacity of something? Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 14:46
  • @JordanReiter: Yes, exactly, it's a noun.
    – user541686
    Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 15:45
  • FWIW for c++ standard containers reserve has this relationship to capacity. If you can afford more than one word "ensure capacity" or "set capacity" might be fitting.
    – user786653
    Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 17:42
  • @user786653: Yeah, so far, "set capacity" has been my choice; I just wondered if there's anything clearer, for something that might also decrease the capacity (which "reserve" doesn't do).
    – user541686
    Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 18:57
  • In real life and software development capacity means the same, i.e. the total number of items (in rl perhaps space) which can be stored. The term size, however, is somehow differently used in software engineering. While rl size is indeed greater than its capacity, in developing the size refers to its current number. So, I think that the word size is the wrong term and it actually should be count (which - afaik - is the older term and size came up several years ago (for whatever reason)). Nonetheless, that does not solve the problem you encounter. (to be continued)
    – Em1
    Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 22:08

5 Answers 5


I don't have the exact word you want, but "reallocate" might work depending on the context.

  • +1, especially in the context of programming, as I suppose to be, the verb reallocate is a very good term.
    – Em1
    Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 14:40
  • 1
    Spot on. The notion of container capacity is tied to allocation already—to extend their capacity, containers of fixed capacity must by definition be reallocated altogether.
    – Jon Purdy
    Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 15:51
  • Wow, at first I was like "wait what?" but now it seems like it's near-perfect. (The 'near' stemming from the fact that the operation may not actually reallocate, but I digress.) I guess it's kind of unfair to non-programmers here but.. seems to work in my context.
    – user541686
    Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 21:58

"Resize" is a verb and "size" can also be one, but "capacity" is never a verb.

If by "capacity" you mean ability and not volume, you have the verbs “capacitate” and “recapacitate”.

From The Free Dictionary by Farlex:


  1. To render fit or make qualified; enable.


  1. To qualify again; to confer capacity on again.
  • Wow, you assumed exactly the less common meaning of each word in my question. I was referring to the noun, and "capacity" just meant "how much something can hold". I was definitely not talking about incapacitation and such...
    – user541686
    Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 15:50
  • 1
    Unfortunately, the OP means volume. Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 15:52

I agree with cornbread ninja's answer but there may also be words that can apply to the alteration of capacity depending on the context.

  • Expand
  • Contract
  • Enlarge
  • Augment
  • Diminish
  • Shrink
  • Extend
  • etc.

As I see from your profile you're a software engineer.

Size and Capacity are regularly used property identifier for the Count of items that a container can store.

Assuming that that is your context and having a look at the Capacity property of a simple List the verb resize in relation to Capacity is fine:

List.Capacity Property Gets or sets the total number of elements the internal data structure can hold without resizing.

Said that, some container do have both properties Capacity and Size where the former is the total number of elements which can be stored while the latter is the current number of elements stored. In that context I'd say that resize is ambiguous. Nonetheless, I'd keep resize for changing capacity, although there is the possibility of confusing people. For the change of the number of current items I'd use add or remove or using count instead of size as property name (if I implement the container).

  • I think this is the best answer if you're talking about collections in general. Resizing a collection can only mean changing its capacity, because you would never talk about resizing a collection when adding or removing elements. Commented Jul 25, 2012 at 0:50

In programming terms, when declaring an array, you are sometimes said to be "dimensioning." When you reset the size of the array, you call it "Redim" or "Re-dimensioning." This is in reference to changing the size(capacity) of the array.

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.