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May 11, 2013

Word of the Day

  • usurp
  • audio pronunciation
  • \yoo-SERP\
  • DEFINITION

verb

: to seize and hold by force or without right
  • EXAMPLES

In her first managerial position, Hannah was hesitant to delegate critical tasks for fear that a subordinate might usurp her position.

"There's a reason James Madison wrote the Constitution the way he did with a 'Separation of Powers' doctrine. That doctrine ensures the three branches of government cannot usurp one another's powers or responsibilities, thus creating a 'checks and balances' system to prevent any one branch from becoming too powerful." — From an opinion piece by Jeffrey Scott Shapiro in The Washington Post, April 18, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?

"Usurp" was borrowed into English in the 14th century from the Anglo-French word "usorper," which in turn derives from the Latin verb "usurpare," meaning "to take possession of without a legal claim." "Usurpare" itself was formed by combining "usu" (a form of "usus," meaning "use") and "rapere" ("to seize"). Other descendants of "rapere" in English include "rapacious" ("given to seizing or extorting what is coveted"), "rapine" ("the seizing and carrying away of things by force"), "rapt" (the earliest sense of which is "lifted up and carried away"), and "ravish" ("to seize and take away by violence").

Name That Synonym: Fill in the blanks to create a synonym of "usurp": a_r_g_t_. The answer is …

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