re·​cuse | \ ri-ˈkyüz How to pronounce recuse (audio) \
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

Other Words from recuse

recusal \ ri-​ˈkyü-​zəl How to pronounce recuse (audio) \ noun

Did you know?

Recuse is derived from the Middle French word recuser, which comes from the Latin recusare, meaning "to refuse." English speakers began using recuse with the meaning "to refuse or reject" in the 14th century. By the 15th 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 19th 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 Nevertheless, the victims’ lawyers asked that Watson recuse himself and that a new judge be assigned. Corky Siemaszko, NBC News, 4 May 2022 Thomas's involvement in the cases has come under scrutiny, and Democrats have called on him to recuse himself from future disputes that come before the Supreme Court involving the January 6 attack. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, 31 Mar. 2022 Republicans, even those who have distanced themselves from Mr. Trump and the more extreme wing of their party, showed no interest in pressuring him to recuse himself. New York Times, 25 Mar. 2022 Former Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's record received numerous mentions throughout the hearing, comparing her to Thomas and questioning why outcry did not follow her decisions not to recuse in cases tied to family members or her comments on Trump. Ella Lee, USA TODAY, 28 Apr. 2022 When justices recuse themselves, rarely is a reason made public. Joan Biskupic, CNN, 8 Apr. 2022 If Thomas doesn't bow to the pressure and recuse himself from Jan. 6-related cases, the other recourse is impeachment, which is highly unlikely. Rick Klein, ABC News, 30 Mar. 2022 The Eastman lawsuit could also be an early test of whether Justice Clarence Thomas will recuse himself from January 6 cases. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 28 Mar. 2022 Gillers’s e-mail to me laid out several reasons for why Thomas must now recuse himself from all such cases. Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, 25 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Recuse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for recuse


transitive verb
re·​cuse | \ ri-ˈkyüz How to pronounce recuse (audio) \
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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