abdicate

verb
ab·​di·​cate | \ ˈab-di-ˌkāt \
abdicated; abdicating

Definition of abdicate

intransitive verb

: to renounce a throne, high office, dignity, or function The king was forced to abdicate.

transitive verb

1 : to relinquish (something, such as sovereign power) formally abdicate a throne
2 : to cast off : discard abdicate a responsibility

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Other Words from abdicate

abdicable \ -​kə-​bəl \ adjective
abdication \ ˌab-​di-​ˈkā-​shən \ noun
abdicator \ ˈab-​di-​ˌkā-​tər \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for abdicate

abdicate, renounce, resign mean to give up a position with no possibility of resuming it. abdicate implies a giving up of sovereign power or sometimes an evading of responsibility such as that of a parent. abdicated the throne renounce may replace it but often implies additionally a sacrifice for a greater end. renounced her inheritance by marrying a commoner resign applies to the giving up of an unexpired office or trust. resigned from the board

Should you abdicate, abrogate, abjure, or just resign?

Several words may be confused with abdicate through either a similarity of sound or of meaning. Among these are abrogate, abjure, and resign. All of these words have multiple meanings that are quite distinct from one another, yet each also has a degree of semantic overlap that renders them nearly synonymous with at least one of the others.

Abdicate is most often used to describe a head of state or member of a royal family voluntarily renouncing a position. It may also refer to the act of failing to fulfill a duty a responsibility. It shares this second meaning with abrogate (although the “failing to fulfill one’s duty” sense of this word is more common in the United Kingdom than in the United States). The senses of abrogate most commonly found are “to annul” or “to do away with.”

Abjure may be used to mean “to abstain from” or “to give up,” but often is used with the meaning of “to disclaim formally or renounce upon oath” (it comes from the Latin jurare, meaning “to swear”).

And finally, resign is often used with the meaning of “to give up one’s office or position.”

Despite the similarities among these words, they tend to be used in fairly specific settings. You would not typically tell your employer that you are abdicating your position in order to look for a better job; you would say that you are resigning. And when the king of a country renounces his claim on the throne to marry his one true love, he would be said to abdicate, rather than resign, his position.

Did You Know?

Give it up. English includes many words for the process of throwing in the towel, especially for relinquishing a job or elected office. Abdicate, a derivative of the prefix ab- (meaning "from," "away," or "off") and the Latin verb dicare (meaning to "proclaim"), has been used primarily for those who give up sovereign power or who evade a very serious responsibility (such as parental responsibility). Renounce is often used as a synonym of abdicate, but it adds to that term the suggestion that an individual is giving up something as a sacrifice to achieve a far greater end. Resign is another option when you are describing a more matter-of-fact departure from a job, office, or trust.

Examples of abdicate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Francis is abdicating the mandate which Christ gave to Peter to confirm the brethren. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "Ex-Vatican official accuses Pope Francis of covering up McCarrick’s sex abuse," 26 Aug. 2018 Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Behind the Supreme Court’s Dodge," 12 Dec. 2018 In 1975, Lao’s king was forced to abdicate, and a new Communist government installed. Hanya Yanagihara, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Luang Prabang Is the Ideal Southeast Asian City," 20 Nov. 2018 To ignore the data and the patterns, advocates and the Obama administration said when finalizing the 2015 rule, was to abdicate the mission Congress gave to HUD under the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Stephen Koff, cleveland.com, "HUD delays rule that was to expand housing options for the poor but was derided as social engineering," 8 Jan. 2018 The last czar of Russia abdicated on March 15, 1917, following the country’s February Revolution, bringing an end to the Romanov dynasty that ruled Russia for over 300 years. James Rogers, Fox News, "Incredible photos of the last czar and the Russian royal family surface," 25 Sep. 2018 Unfortunately, with its repeal of the 2015 Open Internet Order, the FCC has abdicated its jurisdiction over broadband communications and walked away from protecting consumers, including public safety agencies. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Verizon throttling could trigger FTC investigation of deceptive practices," 27 Aug. 2018 Napoleon, despite his storied military prowess, abdicated four days after the battle, on June 22, 1815. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "To Honor 'Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again,' ABBA Should Have the Song of This Summer," 20 July 2018 Mary fled to England in 1568, after an uprising forced her to abdicate the Scottish throne in favor of her infant son. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "These Letters Tell the Inside Story of Mary, Queen of Scots’ Imprisonment," 8 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abdicate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of abdicate

1548, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

History and Etymology for abdicate

borrowed from Latin abdicātus, past participle of abdicāre, "to resign, renounce, withdraw," from ab- ab- + -dicāre, ablaut derivative of dīc- (going back to *deik-) in dīcere "to speak, state" — more at diction

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Dictionary Entries near abdicate

Abderian

Abderite

Abdias

abdicate

abdication

abdomen

abdominal fin

Statistics for abdicate

Last Updated

20 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for abdicate

The first known use of abdicate was in 1548

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More Definitions for abdicate

abdicate

verb
ab·​di·​cate | \ ˈab-di-ˌkāt \
abdicated; abdicating

Kids Definition of abdicate

: to give up a position of power or authority The ruler was forced to abdicate.

Other Words from abdicate

abdication \ ˌab-​di-​ˈkā-​shən \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on abdicate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with abdicate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for abdicate

Spanish Central: Translation of abdicate

Nglish: Translation of abdicate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abdicate for Arabic Speakers

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