ab·​jure ab-ˈju̇r How to pronounce abjure (audio)
abjured; abjuring

transitive verb

: to renounce upon oath
He abjured his allegiance to his former country.
: to reject solemnly
She abjured her old beliefs.
formal : to abstain from : avoid
abjure extravagance
abjurer noun formal

Did you know?

Just as a jury swears to produce an unbiased verdict, and a witness swears to tell the truth on pain of perjury, those who abjure their former ways "swear them away." Abjure (as well as jury and perjury) comes from Latin jurare, which means "to swear" (and which in turn is based on the root jus, meaning "law"), plus the prefix ab-, meaning "away." These days, we can casually abjure (that is, abstain from) various vices, but in the 15th and 16th centuries to abjure was a matter of renouncing something under oath—and sometimes a matter of life and death. For example, during the Spanish Inquisition, individuals were given the choice between abjuring unacceptable beliefs and being burned at the stake.

Choose the Right Synonym for abjure

abjure, renounce, forswear, recant, retract mean to withdraw one's word or professed belief.

abjure implies a firm and final rejecting or abandoning often made under oath.

abjured the errors of his former faith

renounce may carry the meaning of disclaim or disown.

renounced abstract art and turned to portrait painting

forswear may add an implication of perjury or betrayal.

I cannot forswear my principles

recant stresses the withdrawing or denying of something professed or taught.

if they recant they will be spared

retract applies to the withdrawing of a promise, an offer, or an accusation.

the newspaper had to retract the story

Examples of abjure in a Sentence

abjured some long-held beliefs when she converted to another religion a strict religious sect that abjures the luxuries, comforts, and conveniences of the modern world
Recent Examples on the Web In the end, de Hales agreed to abjure the realm, which meant walking, barefoot, to the port of Chester, a hundred and thirty miles away, holding a wooden cross and wearing sackcloth, and taking a ship across the Irish Sea, never to return. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, 12 Mar. 2024 Elite progressive educational institutions were unlikely to experience a radical moral epiphany the moment the Supreme Court made its ruling, and abjure their discriminatory impulses and racial fixations. The Editors, National Review, 8 Aug. 2023 This scenario—the Russian nationalist who abjures the war—is Ukraine’s quickest path to some sort of victory. Foreign Affairs, 24 June 2023 But as a philosophical tradition, pragmatism makes no normative claims about what is worth doing and what is not, what is desirable and what is to be abjured. Mark Edmundson, Harper's Magazine, 12 Dec. 2022 With great subversiveness, Portis consistently abjured America’s postwar fetishes for progress, social mobility and affluence. Elizabeth Nelson, Washington Post, 13 Apr. 2023 This new discipline borrowed features from philology and belles lettres—period specialization and close reading, respectively—but abjured their emphasis on facticity and appreciation in favor of a new goal: interpretation. Evan Kindley, The New York Review of Books, 16 Feb. 2023 This description annoys some of the serious players who work and train for months, who develop rare skills, and who abjure alcohol during the competition. San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 July 2022 His new book, Because Our Fathers Lied, is a valiant and abrasive attempt to sift through a legacy his father refused to abjure. Noah Kulwin, The New Republic, 6 July 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'abjure.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English abjuren, borrowed from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French abjurer, borrowed from Medieval Latin abjūrāre, "to repudiate, renounce (a right or claim), swear to stay away from," going back to Latin, "to deny knowledge of falsely under oath, repudiate," from ab- ab- + jūrāre "to swear" — more at jury entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of abjure was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near abjure

Cite this Entry

“Abjure.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abjure. Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


ab·​jure ab-ˈju̇(ə)r How to pronounce abjure (audio)
abjured; abjuring
: to give up, abandon, or reject solemnly
abjure beliefs

Legal Definition


transitive verb
ab·​jure ab-ˈju̇r, əb- How to pronounce abjure (audio)
abjured; abjuring
: renounce
specifically : to disclaim formally or renounce upon oath
solemnly abjures his allegiance to his former country
abjuration noun

Latin abjurare, from ab- off + jurare to swear

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