de·​sue·​tude | \ ˈde-swi-ˌtüd How to pronounce desuetude (audio) , -ˌtyüd, di-ˈsü-ə- How to pronounce desuetude (audio) , -ˈsyü- \

Definition of desuetude

: discontinuance from use or exercise : disuse

Synonyms & Antonyms for desuetude



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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 example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'desuetude.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of desuetude

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for desuetude

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

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

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Cite this Entry

“Desuetude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for desuetude


de·​sue·​tude | \ ˈde-swi-ˌtüd, -ˌtyüd; di-ˈsü-ə-ˌtüd How to pronounce desuetude (audio) \

Legal Definition of desuetude

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

History and Etymology for desuetude

Latin desuetudo disuse, from desuescere to lose the habit of


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