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

With President Trump’s Middle East peace envoys looking on, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday accused the Trump administration of abdicating its commitment to a peace settlement and an independent Palestinian state. Anne Gearan, Washington Post, "Abbas, Haley exchange strong criticism over Middle East at U.N. Security Council," 20 Feb. 2018 Secretary Ben Carson is abdicating his responsibility to fulfill HUD's mission. Juliet Linderman, chicagotribune.com, "Groups sue Ben Carson over delay of anti-segregation rule," 8 May 2018 Ryan has abdicated the oversight function entirely. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Paul Ryan Unaware Constitution Lets Congress Override Presidential Veto," 12 July 2018 The six-floor, 29-room hotel famously was once the home of Wallis Warfield Simpson, an American socialite whom Prince Edward abdicated the throne as king of England to marry. Colin Campbell, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore's Hotel Brexton to close for renovations after lightning strike; owner hopes to sell property," 31 May 2018 Longtime dictator Porfirio Diaz, a friend of foreign investors but detested by his people, was forced to abdicate. John Maccormack, San Antonio Express-News, "Old American colony in Mexico clings to its past," 18 May 2018 The pair's relationship officially went public on this trip, and just a few months later, King Edward abdicated the throne. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "New Photos of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson Have Just Surfaced," 1 June 2016 King James abdicated the throne in the Eastern Conference, bolting for the Lakers through free-agency and leaving Cleveland’s grit for Los Angeles’ glitz. David Haugh, chicagotribune.com, "LeBron James opens door in East — so now the Bulls must re-sign Zach LaVine," 2 July 2018 Sheikh Hamad abdicated in 2013 in favour of his son, Tamim bin Hamad. The Economist, "Cold war in the heatWhy Gulf countries are feuding with Qatar," 21 June 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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Statistics for abdicate

Last Updated

27 Oct 2018

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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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