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

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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 accustom" (it also gave us the word custom). "Disuse" descends from "uti," which means "to use" (that Latin word also gave us "use" and "utility"). Of the two, "disuse" is now the more 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 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, "Canada corrects its ‘Made in Israel’ policy. Now it is time for the U.S. to do the same.," 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, "Sunset Boulevard," 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 6 Mar. 2021.

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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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