re·​cuse | \ri-ˈkyüz \
recused; recusing

Definition of recuse 

transitive verb

: to disqualify (oneself) as judge in a particular case broadly : to remove (oneself) from participation to avoid a conflict of interest

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Other Words from recuse

recusal \ri-​ˈkyü-​zəl \ noun

Did You Know?

Recuse is derived from the Anglo-French word recuser, which comes from Latin recusare, meaning "to refuse." English speakers began using "recuse" with the meaning "to refuse or reject" in the 14th century. By the 17th century, the term had acquired the meaning "to challenge or object to (a judge)." The current legal use of "recuse" as a term specifically meaning "to disqualify (oneself) as a judge" didn't come into frequent use until the mid-20th century. Broader applications soon followed from this sense - you can now recuse yourself from such things as debates and decisions as well as court cases.

Examples of recuse in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Democrats continue to say Mr. Whitaker should recuse himself from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian electoral interference, which had been overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Sadie Gurman, WSJ, "Matthew Whitaker Earned Over $900,000 Running Conservative Nonprofit," 20 Nov. 2018 Sessions recused himself from the Trump-Russia probe on March 2, 2017, because of his own ties to Moscow, a move that was hailed by former Justice Department officials from both parties. Alex Ward, Vox, "Jeff Sessions is out as attorney general," 7 Nov. 2018 Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh recused themselves from the case. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Supreme Court rejects industry challenge of 2015 net neutrality rules," 5 Nov. 2018 Russia investigation In May 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation because of his close involvement with the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, "Rod Rosenstein's Justice Department career highlights dating back to 1990," 24 Sep. 2018 Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to Trump's great displeasure, recused himself from the Russia probe. Tom Schoenberg,, "How Trump Could Fire Robert Mueller," 13 Apr. 2018 One possible explanation for the absence: Questioning Trump about Rosenstein could revive the tricky question of whether Rosenstein should recuse himself from the probe. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Five Questions for Trump That Are Missing From Robert Mueller’s List," 1 May 2018 Because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from investigations related to the 2016 campaign, Rosenstein serves as the acting attorney general of the Russia probe., "Rosenstein angrily denies accusations at House hearing on inspector general report: 'I'm not trying to hide anything'," 28 June 2018 Since Sessions has recused himself, if Rosenstein were to do the same oversight of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe would fall to the associate AG. Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, "Risk of Being Mueller’s Boss Scares Off Top Justice Department Candidates," 6 June 2018

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

1829, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for recuse

Middle English, to refuse, reject, from Anglo-French recuser, from Latin recusare

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Statistics for recuse

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for recuse

The first known use of recuse was in 1829

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More Definitions for recuse

re·​cuse | \ri-ˈkyüz \
recused; recusing

Legal Definition of recuse 

1 : to challenge or object to (as a judge) as having prejudice or a conflict of interest

2 : to disqualify (as oneself or another judge or official) for a proceeding by a judicial act because of prejudice or conflict of interest an order recusing the district attorney from any proceeding may be appealed by the district attorney or the Attorney GeneralCalifornia Penal Code

Other Words from recuse

recusement noun

History and Etymology for recuse

Anglo-French recuser to refuse, from Middle French, from Latin recusare, from re- back + causari to give a reason, from causa cause, reason

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