ab·​ro·​gate | \ ˈa-brə-ˌgāt How to pronounce abrogate (audio) \
abrogated; abrogating

Definition of abrogate

transitive verb

1 formal : to abolish by authoritative action : annul abrogate a treaty
2 formal : to treat as nonexistent : to fail to do what is required by (something, such as a responsibility) The company's directors are accused of abrogating their responsibilities.
3 formal : to suppress or prevent (a biological function or process and especially an immune response) Continued progress in measurement and characterization of antibodies and strategies to abrogate antibody production both prior to and following heart transplant have been encouraging.— Peter M Eckman

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Other Words from abrogate

abrogation \ ˌa-​brə-​ˈgā-​shən How to pronounce abrogation (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for abrogate

nullify, negate, annul, abrogate, invalidate mean to deprive of effective or continued existence. nullify implies counteracting completely the force, effectiveness, or value of something. a penalty nullified the touchdown negate implies the destruction or canceling out of each of two things by the other. the arguments negate each other annul suggests making ineffective or nonexistent often by legal or official action. the treaty annuls all previous agreements abrogate is like annul but more definitely implies a legal or official act. a law to abrogate trading privileges invalidate implies making something powerless or unacceptable by declaration of its logical or moral or legal unsoundness. the court invalidated the statute

Abrogate vs. Arrogate

Abrogate and arrogate may easily be confused because they look and sound alike and are infrequently used and therefore unfamiliar. Despite their apparent similarities, these two words have markedly different meanings and do not share an origin. Abrogate (“ to abolish by authoritative action”) comes from the Latin abrogāre, meaning “to repeal (a law).” Arrogate (“to claim or seize without justification”) shares its etymology with arrogant; both may be traced to the Latin verb arrogāre, meaning “to appropriate to oneself.”

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?

If you can't simply wish something out of existence, the next best thing might be to "propose it away." That's more or less what "abrogate" lets you do - etymologically speaking, at least. "Abrogate" comes from the Latin root rogare, which means "to propose a law," and ab-, meaning "from" or "away." We won't propose that you try to get away from the fact that "rogare" is also an ancestor in the family tree of "prerogative" and "interrogate." "Abrogate" first appeared in English as a verb in the 16th century; it was preceded by an adjective sense meaning "annulled" or "cancelled" which is now obsolete.

Examples of abrogate in a Sentence

If UAL continues to bleed red ink, some analysts say bankruptcy—which would allow it to abrogate its union contracts—may be its only hope. Business Week, 12 Nov. 2001 We may not always like what we hear but we are always the poorer if we close down dialogue; if we abrogate free speech, and the open exchange of ideas. — Nikki Giovanni, Sacred Cows … and Other Edibles, 1988 For their part, some of the pipeline companies saddled with these contracts for high-priced, deregulated gas have declared that they will simply abrogate them … — Barry Commoner, New Yorker, 2 May 1983 The company's directors are accused of abrogating their responsibilities. the U.S. Congress can abrogate old treaties that are unfair to Native Americans
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Recent Examples on the Web The bill had been passed by the Lok Sabha without much debate on Aug. 5—the same day the centre also abrogated the special status of Jammu & Kashmir. Vijayta Lalwani, Quartz India, "What next for transgender people, as India clears a bill that activists call “murder of gender justice”?," 27 Nov. 2019 After the Modi government abrogated Articles 370 and 35A in the state and bifurcated it into two union territories, several political leaders have been under house arrest and there are severe restrictions on civilian movement. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "Modi told Indian-Americans “everything is fine” in India in nine languages. But is it?," 22 Sep. 2019 Following the release of the presidential order, Parliament introduced a resolution recommending that the president abrogate Article 370. Washington Post, "Experts question legality of India’s changes in Kashmir," 6 Aug. 2019 Their desire is that the president should be removed from office, perhaps that the result of the 2016 election itself could be abrogated. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "You Can’t Beat Trump without Throwing a Punch," 24 July 2019 Even the suggestion that American Muslims’ right to practice their faith should be abrogated chips away at a bulwark that protects us all. Krista Kafer, The Denver Post, "Kafer: What John Andrews got wrong is that all religions are susceptible to abuse," 18 July 2019 President Mirza may have abrogated the human constitution, but the 1947 Jinn Independence Act still holds. Veronica Chambers, New York Times, "Viewfinders: 10 Y.A. Novelists Spin Fiction From Vintage Photos," 28 June 2019 In this case, and repeatedly, Congress has abrogated its responsibilities. WSJ, "Judicial Record, Temperament Both Count," 5 Oct. 2018 If federal courts may compel states to reinstate Medicaid providers, the political branches become subservient to the judiciary and the state-federal relationship is abrogated. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Behind the Supreme Court’s Dodge," 12 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abrogate.' 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 abrogate

circa 1520, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for abrogate

borrowed from Latin abrogātus, past participle of abrogāre, "to repeal (a law), repudiate, cancel," from ab- ab- + rogāre "to ask, ask an assembly for approval of" — more at rogation

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Time Traveler for abrogate

Time Traveler

The first known use of abrogate was circa 1520

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Last Updated

3 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Abrogate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abrogate. Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for abrogate

ab·​ro·​gate | \ ˈa-brə-ˌgāt How to pronounce abrogate (audio) \
abrogated; abrogating

Legal Definition of abrogate

: to abolish by authoritative, official, or formal action : annul, repeal a recent addition to [section] 51B abrogates statutory and common-law privileges— J. S. J. Elder and A. G. Rodgers

Other Words from abrogate

abrogation \ ˌa-​brə-​ˈgā-​shən How to pronounce abrogation (audio) \ noun

History and Etymology for abrogate

Latin abrogare, from ab- off + rogare ask, ask for approval of (a law)

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