ex·​pro·​pri·​ate | \ ek-ˈsprō-prē-ˌāt How to pronounce expropriate (audio) \
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 How to pronounce expropriator (audio) \ 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

On Saturday, the tenant advocate and his allies plan to start collecting signatures for a ballot proposal that would push the city to expropriate all private, profit-seeking landlords that own more than 3,000 apartments. Konrad Putzier, WSJ, "In Berlin, a Radical Proposal to Combat Rising Rents: Expropriate Big Landlords," 2 Apr. 2019 Rather than expropriating the wealthy, low-income voters in several swing states helped put a billionaire in the White House who then slashed taxes on the rich. Daniel Treisman, Washington Post, "Why the poor don’t vote to soak the rich," 27 Feb. 2018 The World Bank has had a longstanding provision in its founding articles that obliges it to cease lending operations in countries that expropriate assets without fair compensation. WSJ, "South Africa Should Study Zimbabwe’s Sad Land Grab," 28 Nov. 2018 Foreign Edition Podcast Foreign Edition Podcast Zimbabwe’s election and South Africa’s push to expropriate private property. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Venezuela’s Drone Attack," 5 Aug. 2018 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

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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Statistics for expropriate

Last Updated

19 May 2019

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Time Traveler for expropriate

The first known use of expropriate was in 1611

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More Definitions for expropriate



English Language Learners Definition of expropriate

formal : to take (someone's property)


transitive verb
ex·​pro·​pri·​ate | \ ek-ˈsprō-prē-ˌāt How to pronounce expropriate (audio) \
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 How to pronounce expropriation (audio) \ noun

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Comments on expropriate

What made you want to look up expropriate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

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