Does a specific verb exist for the process of passing on information or skills including the passing of responsibilities between an experienced worker and a new one? The verb train is too general, as it applies to any time frame during a job, not necessary during the beginning of one's employment. Moreover it does not include passing of responsibilities.

There exists a slang term for this verb in Hebrew (loosely transliterated as "overlap"), and I'm looking for its English equivalent.

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    Apprentice can be used as a verb as well as a noun. Could that work, perhaps?
    – J.R.
    Dec 9, 2012 at 9:43
  • I'm looking for the verb that describes the "trainer's" actions, not the the apprentice's. A noun describing the "training" would be fine too.
    – nbubis
    Dec 9, 2012 at 9:56
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    This sounded so familiar. It's actually a duplicate! english.stackexchange.com/questions/58885/… In that question, the answer was "orientation". Dec 10, 2012 at 1:48
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    It's anecdotal but everybody used the term "ramp up" at Microsoft. The senior "ramped up" the new hire. The new hire was "getting ramped up". Dec 10, 2012 at 10:14
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    @PeterK. - This actually is the same Hebrew term used, but (apparently) different companies use the term differently :)
    – nbubis
    Dec 16, 2012 at 19:13

15 Answers 15


When this has happened in my professional experience, we always called it "transfer of knowledge" or "knowledge transfer".

This certainly doesn't get the sense of transferring the responsibility, but that is implied: the person receiving the knowledge would be the "go to" person for that area of work.


Does "mentor" fit the bill?

v. men·tored, men·tor·ing, men·tors Informal
    To serve as a trusted counselor or teacher, especially in occupational settings.
    To serve as a trusted counselor or teacher to (another person).

  • 1
    Mentor is close, but it does not encompass the passing-on of responsibilities.
    – Lynn
    Dec 9, 2012 at 17:34

I can't think of a word, but there is this idiom: show the ropes.

The Free Dictionary says:

show somebody the ropes
to explain to someone how to do a job or activity : The new secretary started today so I spent most of the morning showing her the ropes.

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    That's just a brief process, a crash course… an apprentice is more like a protege. Dec 9, 2012 at 16:23
  • @Potatoswatter: I agree – it's not a perfect match, but it was the best I could think of to get the ball rolling. I think it's one of those answers that, though perhaps not a 100% match, still deserves a mention in the conversation.
    – J.R.
    Dec 9, 2012 at 18:03

There is a verb but it's not commonly used, induct:

to formally or ceremoniously install in an office, position, etcetera.
to introduce into (particularly if certain knowledge or experience is required, such as ritual adulthood or cults).
to draft into military service.
to bring in as a member.

It's more commonly used as a noun, induction:

The induction you will receive in your local department/institution will enable you to:

  • Meet your key colleagues.
  • Find your way around your workplace.
  • Understand your terms and conditions of employment.
  • Understand your role, key responsibilities and how you fit into your department/institution.

An induction meets one of your requirements as it is almost always done at the start of someone's employment, however it does not imply any hand-over of responsibilities, only that of giving an understanding to a new employee.

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    'induction' is to formally make part of an organization, and may not involve any actual training or instruction. Some may be 'inducted' into a Hall of Fame, for example. It certainly doesn't involve training them, and may not even involve showing them the washrooms. Dec 9, 2012 at 17:56
  • @DJClayworth I disagree, as the basic elements of behavior/pattern that are presented during induction are often more the 'secrets' and 'oral tradition' than techniques conveyed for doing a work / job. Being inducted is synonymous with oral traditions and the traditions and guilds for which one typically is an apprentice. Dec 9, 2012 at 18:17
  • Have to disagree with you there. Induction is "formal installation in an office, benefice, or the like". Some companies use it to mean initial basic training, but it doesn't have to be that and it would be the wrong word to use if you specifically wanted to mean training. I think the questioner is asking about more in-depth training than this anyway. Dec 9, 2012 at 18:47

English has the verb "apprentice". In my experience, this is most commonly used in the intransitive form:

to serve as an apprentice ("She apprenticed with Bob in her youth.")

However, there is also a transitive counterpart:

to set at work as an apprentice; especially : to bind to an apprenticeship by contract or indenture ("Why Paul Revere's father apprenticed him instead of sending him to college.")

Perhaps that fits more what you're looking for.


How about groom, as in "groomed for success" or "grooming her replacement"?

Definition of GROOM

transitive verb 3 : to get into readiness for a specific objective : prepare "was being groomed as a presidential candidate"


Definition of initiate:

  1. to cause or facilitate the beginning of : set going
  2. to induct into membership by or as if by special rites
  3. to instruct in the rudiments or principles of something : introduce

Cross-training or orienting (from orientation) are both used for the passing on of knowledge and duties to another employee:

From dictionary.com:

"orientation" - 3. an introduction, as to guide one in adjusting to new surroundings, employment, activity, or the like: New employees receive two days of orientation.

  • I probably should have thought this one through first; +1, even if "orientation" does not involve "passing of resposibilities", nor "cross-training" does that.
    – user19148
    Dec 9, 2012 at 12:40
  • "orientation" really only refers to the most basic of knowledge passing. "orientation" frequently doesn't tell you anything about doing your job - just information you need before you start doing your job. Dec 9, 2012 at 20:03

A common idiom used in the industry is to bring him/her up to speed (See link).

  • It is your responsibility to mentor the freshers and bring them up to speed.

Break in (“To cause (something, or someone, new) to function more naturally through use or wear” or “To tame; make obedient; to train to follow orders of the owner”) sometimes is used; ie, to “break in a new hand” means to show a new employee the ropes and how things are done.

The previously-mentioned verb initiate (“To instruct in the rudiments or principles; to introduce”) is another possibility, as is shakedown, a noun referring to a trial or test period.


You might consider understudy:


  1. To study or know (a role) so as to be able to replace the regular performer when required.
  2. To act as an understudy to.


To be engaged in studying a role so as to be able to replace the regular performer when required.

Originally a theater term, an understudy (in the noun form) is the backup to the regular performer who is a more experienced/better performer. The understudy studies under the regular performer - a sort of apprentice for that role. The regular performer, at one time, was most likely an understudy to someone else so understudy may also be thought of as a rite of passage, of sorts.

Outside of theater, understudy, in my experience, retains the connotation of taking over when the teacher is not able to perform his/her duties (and therefore may not be the best word in all contexts).


How about "takeover"? American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition:

n. The act or an instance of assuming control or management of or responsibility for something ...

  • Sounds a bit violent to me, but "takeover of responsibilities" comes close I guess.
    – nbubis
    Dec 9, 2012 at 9:59
  • 1
    I think takeover is usually used at the corporate level, as in this news article.
    – J.R.
    Dec 9, 2012 at 10:03
  • I think you're looking for "cutover", from classic IT forms. However I don't think "apprentice" includes "assuming control"...
    – AviD
    Dec 9, 2012 at 14:07

A meaning of the word "probation" is:

the testing or trial of a person's conduct, character, qualifications, or the like.

Some jobs have "probationary periods" wherein employees receive their training. This could be used as a noun describing the training process: "the trainee's probation." During probation, a trainer "initiates" a new worker. From dictionary.com:

initiate (verb): introduce into the knowledge of some art or subject.

A person could be initiated into the specifics of sausage casing or masonic chants. In either case, a trainer takes an active role in passing along information.


I don't think there is a specific word for this. Why would you need one? "Train" is fine. You just need to say "He trained his apprentice in...", and the entire meaning is conveyed. Training is just one of the things that an apprentice is entitled to, and apprenticeship is as much about the duties as the entitlements of the apprentice.

I suspect that the reason there isn't a special word for it is that it wouldn't add anything. So much is implied by the notion of apprenticeship that once this context is known, ordinary words like 'train' can be interpreted correctly.

  • Perhaps it's a cultural difference. In organizations where people leave frequently and moreover are not very organized, knowledge and responsibility are frequently lost - hence the importance of passing on both in an orderly fashion.
    – nbubis
    Dec 10, 2012 at 5:49
  • I don't see any cultural difference. Of course passing on knowledge is important, which is why there are apprenticeship systems. It's just that there's no need for a special word for training when the trainee is an apprentice. Dec 10, 2012 at 12:04

A single word is not in use in English to describe this, to my knowledge.

What a master does is teach the trade/craft i.e. performs an educational service at the end of which the apprentice is considered to have assimilated the body of knowledge the master himself possesses.

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