ab·​ro·​gate | \ˈa-brə-ˌgāt \
abrogated; abrogating

Definition of abrogate 

transitive verb


1 : to abolish by authoritative action : annul abrogate a treaty

2 : 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.

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Other Words from abrogate

abrogation \ˌa-​brə-​ˈgā-​shən \ 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

Yet many white people fundamentally reject that black people are owed such regard, and indeed often feel that their own rights have somehow been abrogated by contemporary racial inclusion. Elijah Anderson, Vox, "The sociology of living while black," 10 Aug. 2018 But in the 2002 case, when Bush abrogated the ABM Treaty, as then-Sen. Andrew Rudalevige, Washington Post, "If the Iran deal had been a Senate-confirmed treaty, would Trump have been forced to stay in? Nope.," 9 May 2018 This anger is conflating with Trump’s decision to abrogate the Iran nuclear deal, which the Europeans continue to recognize. Mark Zandi, Philly.com, "Corporate America loved Trump tax cuts, but the love affair may end," 25 May 2018 Trump’s decision to abrogate the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, as well as ongoing disputes over trade and tariffs, have caused the relationship to break down. Washington Post, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump attacked Trudeau but ‘practically hugged’ Kim Jong Un, says French foreign minister," 13 June 2018 In response, the North Koreans booted the IAEA inspectors out of the reactor, abrogated the Non-Proliferation Treaty, resumed processing plutonium, and stepped up the enrichment of uranium. Fred Kaplan, Slate Magazine, "Sorry, Trump, but Talking to North Korea Has Worked," 10 Oct. 2017 The current question in the Philippines is whether, even absent the terrorists and drug traffickers, Duterte’s instinct would be to abrogate democratic norms. Jessica Trisko Darden, Washington Post, "The Philippines just extended martial law. How far will Duterte go to stop terrorism?," 14 Dec. 2017 But business groups and free-trade lawmakers in Mr. Trump’s Republican party loudly protested the notion of abrogating the treaty. Byron Tau, WSJ, "White House Steps Back From Ending Korea Trade Pact," 6 Sep. 2017 Tennessee actually did secede; Bull Run and Manassas were the same battle; the Compromise of 1850 did not abrogate the Missouri Compromise of 1820; Lincoln did not choose his own running mate in 1864 (or in 1860, for that matter). Michael Burlingame, WSJ, "Lincoln’s Road to Emancipation," 4 July 2017

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, "torepeal(alaw),repudiate,cancel," from ab- ab- + rogāre "toask,askanassemblyforapprovalof" — more at rogation

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21 Nov 2018

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The first known use of abrogate was circa 1520

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More Definitions for abrogate


transitive verb
ab·​ro·​gate | \ˈa-brə-ˌgāt \
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 \ noun

History and Etymology for abrogate

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on abrogate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with abrogate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for abrogate

Spanish Central: Translation of abrogate

Nglish: Translation of abrogate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of abrogate for Arabic Speakers

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