In what kinds of situations do you use “holder” and “owner”


I've done some research on the two words, but I can't tell their differences based on dictionary definitions. I often hear people say phone owners but then certificate holders. Do people say the opposites? If not, is there a rule or do I have to remember each phrase separately?

Best Answer

In the legal meaning of the word, when you hold an intangible legal "instrument" (usually a document of some kind) it entitles you to rights to something of value. A lienholder, for example, has a claim upon a property that was put up as surety or collateral. A concert ticket entitles you to attend the concert. But the instrument itself has vanishingly small intrinsic worth -- on a piece of modern paper with some legalese typed on it, you can't even scribble down a bawdy limerick, except maybe in the margins. It is of almost zero value as paper.

By contrast, when you own something, it is typically tangible with intrinsic value and/or utility. It might be just an ordinary tea kettle, or a collectible figurine with relatively modest intrinsic worth, or a vintage Rolls Royce and have considerable worth.

Those distinctions don't prevent people from saying things like "I own 100 shares of stock in that company." But they're actually shareholders. As with any technical term that enters common usage, these terms can lose precision.