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verb ab·ro·gate \ˈa-brə-ˌgāt\

Simple Definition of abrogate

  • : to end or cancel (something) in a formal and official way

  • : to fail to do what is required by (something, such as a responsibility)

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of abrogate



  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to abolish by authoritative action :  annul

  3. 2 :  to treat as nonexistent <abrogating their responsibilities>


play \ˌa-brə-ˈgā-shən\ noun

Examples of abrogate in a sentence

  1. If UAL continues to bleed red ink, some analysts say bankruptcy—which would allow it to abrogate its union contracts—may be its only hope. —Business Week, 12 Nov. 2001

  2. We may not always like what we hear but we are always the poorer if we close down dialogue; if we abrogate free speech, and the open exchange of ideas. —Nikki Giovanni, Sacred Cows … and Other Edibles, 1988

  3. For their part, some of the pipeline companies saddled with these contracts for high-priced, deregulated gas have declared that they will simply abrogate them … —Barry Commoner, New Yorker, 2 May 1983

  4. The company's directors are accused of abrogating their responsibilities.

  5. <the U.S. Congress can abrogate old treaties that are unfair to Native Americans>

Did You Know?

If you can't simply wish something out of existence, the next best thing might be to "propose it away." That's more or less what "abrogate" lets you do - etymologically speaking, at least. "Abrogate" comes from the Latin root rogare, which means "to propose a law," and ab-, meaning "from" or "away." We won't propose that you try to get away from the fact that "rogare" is also an ancestor in the family tree of "prerogative" and "interrogate." "Abrogate" first appeared in English as a verb in the 16th century; it was preceded by an adjective sense meaning "annulled" or "cancelled" which is now obsolete.

Origin and Etymology of abrogate

Latin abrogatus, past participle of abrogare, from ab- + rogare to ask, propose a law — more at right

First Known Use: 1526

Synonym Discussion of abrogate

nullify, negate, annul, abrogate, invalidate mean to deprive of effective or continued existence. nullify implies counteracting completely the force, effectiveness, or value of something <a penalty nullified the touchdown>. negate implies the destruction or canceling out of each of two things by the other <the arguments negate each other>. annul suggests making ineffective or nonexistent often by legal or official action <the treaty annuls all previous agreements>. abrogate is like annul but more definitely implies a legal or official act <a law to abrogate trading privileges>. invalidate implies making something powerless or unacceptable by declaration of its logical or moral or legal unsoundness <the court invalidated the statute>.

Law Dictionary


transitive verb ab·ro·gate \ˈa-brə-ˌgāt\

Legal Definition of abrogate



  1. :  to abolish by authoritative, official, or formal action :  annul, repeal <a recent addition to [section] 51B abrogates statutory and common-law privileges — J. S. J. Elder and A. G. Rodgers>


\ˌa-brə-ˈgā-shən\ play noun

Origin and Etymology of abrogate

Latin abrogare, from ab- off + rogare ask, ask for approval of (a law)

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