de·​sue·​tude ˈde-swi-ˌtüd How to pronounce desuetude (audio)
di-ˈsü-ə- How to pronounce desuetude (audio)
: discontinuance from use or exercise : disuse

Did you know?

Desuetude must be closely related to disuse, right? Wrong. Despite the similarities between them, desuetude and disuse derive from two different Latin verbs. Desuetude comes from suescere, a word that means "to become accustomed" (suescere also gave us the word custom). Disuse descends from uti, which means "to use." (That Latin word also gave us use and utility.) Although less common, desuetude hasn't fallen into desuetude yet, and it was put to good use in the past, as in the 17th-century writings of Scottish Quaker Robert Barclay, who wrote, "The weighty Truths of God were neglected, and, as it were, went into Desuetude."

Examples of desuetude in a Sentence

despite the long years of desuetude, the old manual typewriter seemed to work just fine
Recent Examples on the Web New England travel writer and physician Jonathan Brown visited Sans-Souci in the 1830s, long after the king’s suicide in 1820, when the palace had been completely pillaged and had fallen into utter desuetude. Marlene Daut, Harper's BAZAAR, 8 Oct. 2021 Some passengers, however, seem to have moved beyond our technological limitations to a conceptual world where human drivers have fallen into desuetude. Peter Jakubowicz, Wired, 4 Sep. 2021 This Customs guidance has gone entirely unenforced for decades, but it was reissued — perhaps to keep it from desuetude — by the Obama administration in its final years. Eugene Kontorovich, Washington Post, 17 July 2017 Glenn Close returns to the role of Norma Desmond in the 1993 Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, based on Billy Wilder’s classic portrait of Hollywood desuetude. The New Yorker, 9 Feb. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'desuetude.' 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 dissuetude, from Latin desuetudo, from desuescere to become unaccustomed, from de- + suescere to become accustomed; akin to Latin sodalis comrade — more at sib

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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


Dictionary Entries Near desuetude

Cite this Entry

“Desuetude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2024.

Legal Definition


: a doctrine holding that a statute may be abrogated because of its long disuse

Latin desuetudo disuse, from desuescere to lose the habit of

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!