ex·​pro·​pri·​ate | \ek-ˈsprō-prē-ˌāt \
expropriated; expropriating

Definition of expropriate 

transitive verb

1 : to deprive of possession or proprietary rights

2 : to transfer (the property of another) to one's own possession

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Other Words from expropriate

expropriator \ ek-​ˈsprō-​prē-​ˌā-​tər \ noun

Did You Know?

If you guessed that expropriate has something in common with the verb appropriate, you're right. Both words ultimately derive from the Latin adjective proprius, meaning "own." Expropriate came to us by way of the Medieval Latin verb expropriare, itself from Latin ex- ("out of" or "from") and proprius. Appropriate descends from Late Latin appropriare, which joins proprius and Latin ad- ("to" or "toward"). Both the verb appropriate ("to take possession of" or "to set aside for a particular use") and the adjective appropriate ("fitting" or "suitable") have been with us since the 15th century, and expropriate has been a part of the language since at least 1611. Other proprius descendants in English include proper and property.

Examples of expropriate in a Sentence

dissidents were shot, and their lands expropriated under his regime the state will have to expropriate scores of homeowners in order to build the new road

Recent Examples on the Web

Short of tax revenues, local governments treat land as free money, expropriating it cheaply and then selling it at inflated prices. The Economist, "A compelling look at the flaws in the Chinese economy," 22 Mar. 2018 With Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War in 1967, the army took over, restricted the herders’ movements and expropriated the area as state land — without yet evicting the Bedouins. New York Times, "As Israel Pushes to Build, Bedouin Homes and School Face Demolition," 24 June 2018 Her best friend, Reva, speaks in self-help bromides while expropriating her wine and designer wardrobe. Megan O’grady, New York Times, "Read Any Antisocial Novels Lately?," 10 May 2018 In our country’s earliest days, European ancestry distinguished members of the polity from those whose land could be rightfully expropriated; and whose bodies justly bought and sold. Eric Leivtz, Daily Intelligencer, "For Democrats, Immigration Is a Political Problem Without a Policy Solution," 2 July 2018 Back in 1954, after Hurricane Hazel flooded homes in the valley, the city expropriated a bunch of land and turned it into a linear park meandering through the city, with tens of miles of bike trails and gravel paths running alongside the river. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "Why "Wilder" Nature Is Better for Your Health," 27 June 2018 Since Lázaro Cárdenas, a former president, expropriated the oil sector in 1938, state control over oil reserves has become knitted into Mexican notions of national sovereignty. The Economist, "The murky future of two Latin American oil giants," 14 June 2018 Especially when done for squatters—trespassers—this expropriates a landlord’s property without compensation. WSJ, "It’s Time for a Federal Class Action for Property Rights," 6 June 2018 Then President Benito Juarez expropriated much of the church's holdings. Mark Stevenson, Fox News, "For Mexican presidential hopeful 'AMLO,' 3rd time a charm?," 5 June 2018

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

1611, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for expropriate

Medieval Latin expropriatus, past participle of expropriare, from Latin ex- + proprius own

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Last Updated

3 Nov 2018

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The first known use of expropriate was in 1611

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English Language Learners Definition of expropriate

: to take (someone's property)


transitive verb
ex·​pro·​pri·​ate | \ek-ˈsprō-prē-ˌāt \
expropriated; expropriating

Legal Definition of expropriate 

: to take (property) of an individual in the exercise of state sovereignty (as by eminent domain)

Other Words from expropriate

expropriation \ ek-​ˌsprō-​prē-​ˈā-​shən \ noun

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