abol·​ish ə-ˈbä-lish How to pronounce abolish (audio)
abolished; abolishing; abolishes

transitive verb

: to end the observance or effect of (something, such as a law) : to completely do away with (something) : annul
abolish a law
abolish slavery
abolishable adjective
abolisher noun
abolishment noun

Example Sentences

He is in favor of abolishing the death penalty. the U.S. abolished slavery by constitutional amendment on December 6, 1865
Recent Examples on the Web DeSantis then pushed legislators to abolish Disney’s special land use, utilities and public service district called Reedy Creek. Katie Rice, Orlando Sentinel, 23 Mar. 2023 Apparently, the answer at Stanford Law is the 100 students who were encouraged by a diversity dean to abolish free expression and peaceful assembly. WSJ, 21 Mar. 2023 Experts say legislation like Alabama’s are part of a national effort to abolish diversity and inclusion policies in educational institutions. Rebecca Griesbach | , al, 11 Mar. 2023 China China is currently making changes to abolish its Covid-19 trace tracking system, according to officials in the country. Alexandra Meeks, CNN, 12 Dec. 2022 Most notably, the country decided in 2016 to abolish the kafala system, which required companies to sponsor migrant workers and control their exit visas. Theo Mackie, The Arizona Republic, 17 Nov. 2022 Ted Cruz has hardly been quiet about his desire to abolish the Internal Revenue System. Sarah Bahari, Dallas News, 31 Oct. 2022 West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema have resisted any effort to abolish or curb the 60-vote threshold for most legislation. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 19 Oct. 2022 For eleven years in a row, Senator Hank Sanders, a Black man from Selma, Alabama, introduced legislation to abolish the practice of judicial override in our court system. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 6 Oct. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'abolish.' 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 abolysshen, borrowed from Middle French aboliss-, stem of abolir "to abolish," borrowed from Latin abolēre "to destroy, efface, put an end to," perhaps formed from abolēscere "to shrivel up, be effaced, fall into disuse," from ab- ab- + -ol-, medial form of the base of alere "to nourish, bring up" + -ēsc-, inchoative suffix — more at old entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near abolish

Cite this Entry

“Abolish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abolish. Accessed 31 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


abol·​ish ə-ˈbäl-ish How to pronounce abolish (audio)
: to do away with completely : put an end to
abolishable adjective
abolisher noun
abolishment noun

Legal Definition


transitive verb
: to end the observance or effect of : annul

More from Merriam-Webster on abolish

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