Definition of abdicate
: to renounce a throne, high office, dignity, or function The king was forced to abdicate.
1 : to relinquish (something, such as sovereign power) formally abdicate a throne
2 : to cast off : discard abdicate a responsibility
abdicableplay \-kə-bəl\ adjective
abdicationplay \ˌab-di-ˈkā-shən\ noun
abdicatorplay \ˈab-di-ˌkā-tər\ noun
abdicate was our Word of the Day on 05/30/2017. Hear the podcast!
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Recent Examples of abdicate from the Web
The Trump Administration and some Congressional leaders have chosen to abdicate government’s responsibility for the poor and disadvantaged and devalue the health of the American public.
Leadership Vacuum Democrats questioned whether the U.S. is abdicating its leadership in the world.
Crown crisis Japan’s Parliament on Friday allowed Emperor Akihito, 83, to abdicate the throne and approved a study on women’s role in the royal family.
The Japanese parliament voted Friday to allow Emperor Akihito, 83, to abdicate in the next three years.
In veiled language, the 83-year-old emperor expressed his wish to abdicate last August, citing his age and health.
The law clears the way for Emperor Akihito, 83, to become the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in 200 years.
Japan’s Parliament on Friday passed a law that allows Emperor Akihito to become the first occupant of the chrysanthemum throne to abdicate since 1817.
In 1937, Edward, The Duke of Windsor, who had abdicated the British throne, married Wallis Simpson in a private ceremony in Monts, France.
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.
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.
Origin and Etymology of abdicate
Synonym Discussion of abdicate
ABDICATE Defined for Kids
Definition of abdicate for Students
: to give up a position of power or authority The ruler was forced to abdicate.
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