(Quick Reference)



Defines a "belongs to" relationship where the class specified by belongsTo assumes ownership of the relationship. This has the effect of controlling how saves and deletes cascade. The exact behaviour depends on the type of relationship:

  • Many-to-one/one-to-one: saves and deletes cascade from the owner to the dependant (the class with the belongsTo).
  • One-to-many: saves always cascade from the one side to the many side, but if the many side has belongsTo, then deletes also cascade in that direction.
  • Many-to-many: only saves cascade from the "owner" to the "dependant", not deletes.


class Book {
   String title

static belongsTo = [author: Author] }

In this example the Book class specifies that it belongs to the Author class, hence when an Author instance is deleted so are all its associated Book instances.


The belongsTo property abstracts the nature of the cascading behaviour in Hibernate. If you want one class to belong to another but not have a back reference, then you can specify a class or a list of classes as the value:

class Book {
    static belongsTo = Author


class Book {
    static belongsTo = [Author, Library]

Back references, i.e. properties linking back to the owner, can be added in one of two ways:

class Book {
    Author author

static belongsTo = Author }


class Book {
    static belongsTo = [author: Author]

In these examples, both techniques create an Author property named author. Also, the Map property can specify multiple properties and types if the class belongs to more than one owner.

The belongsTo property is simple and means you don't have to worry about the Hibernate cascading strategies, but if you need more control over cascading you can use the ORM DSL. This allows fine grained control of cascading updates and deletes.