abdicate

verb
ab·​di·​cate | \ ˈab-di-ˌkāt How to pronounce abdicate (audio) \
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 How to pronounce abdicable (audio) \ adjective
abdicator \ ˈab-​di-​ˌkā-​tər How to pronounce abdicator (audio) \ 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

Its most ardent supporters have similarly abdicated political responsibility, voting time and again against the deals that would remove the United Kingdom from the European Union. Stephen Paduano, The New Republic, "The Limits of Outrage Politics," 13 June 2019 After serving for 30 years as emperor of Japan, 85-year-old Emperor Akihito has abdicated the Chrysanthemum Throne—becoming the first Japanese emperor to do so in 200 years. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Japanese Emperor Akihito Abdicates the Throne, Ending His 30-Year Reign," 30 Apr. 2019 Though Japanese emperors traditionally rule until their death, Emperor Akihito, Hirohito’s son, will abdicate on April 30, 2019 due to his concerns about his health and age. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "Learn about the history—and future—of the Japanese monarchy," 29 Apr. 2019 Akihito abdicated April 30 and now holds the title of emperor emeritus. Fox News, "Japan's former empress has heart problem but fine to travel," 11 June 2019 Democrats and the media are turning the AG into a villain for doing his duty and making the hard decisions that special counsel Robert Mueller abdicated. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "A Real Attorney General," 1 May 2019 Both teams began 2018-19 expecting to challenge for the Eastern Conference throne abdicated by LeBron James’ departure to the Los Angeles Lakers. Kyle Hightower, The Seattle Times, "Pacers, Celtics enter playoff matchup looking for redemption," 13 Apr. 2019 By the end of the 1860s, there were even calls for the Queen to abdicate and leave the throne open for her eldest son, Bertie, the future King Edward VII. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "How Did Queen Victoria's Husband Prince Albert Die?," 4 Mar. 2019 As his career approached its close, McCain worried that the Senate was abdicating its constitutional responsibilities. William A. Galston, WSJ, "McCain Championed a Strong Senate," 28 Aug. 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

7 Jul 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 How to pronounce abdicate (audio) \
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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