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

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Other Words from recuse

recusal \ ri-​ˈkyü-​zəl How to pronounce recuse (audio) \ 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 Kruger failed to properly recuse himself from the case, the consultants said. oregonlive, "Outside consultants blast West Linn’s cursory review of Michael Fesser’s wrongful arrest claims," 17 Dec. 2020 Zuma left the commission hearing without permission after Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo dismissed an application asking him to recuse himself as chair of the inquiry. Mogomotsi Magome, Star Tribune, "South Africa judge files criminal complaint against ex-prez," 23 Nov. 2020 Justices have sole discretion, in conjunction with their colleagues on the court, in deciding whether to recuse themselves from a case. Richard Wolf, USA TODAY, "Will the Supreme Court ride to Donald Trump's rescue? Don't count on it.," 5 Nov. 2020 Zhou said her lawyers asked the judges to recuse themselves and adjourn. Washington Post, "An intern takes on a celebrity TV host in China’s highest-profile #MeToo case," 3 Dec. 2020 None adhere to the strict standards of Britain’s Booker or the Pulitzer in the United States, whose juries change every year and whose jurors recuse themselves over potential conflicts of interest. New York Times, "France’s Major Literary Juries Award Prizes in a Year of Scandal," 30 Nov. 2020 Former South African President Jacob Zuma walked out of a judicial panel probing state corruption after failing to persuade the inquiry’s chairman to recuse himself, violating a summons to testify. Michael Cohen,, "Zuma Abandons Graft Probe to Defy Judge Who Wouldn’t Quit," 19 Nov. 2020 On Monday, Zuma launched an application for the chairman of the commission, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, to recuse himself from the investigation, claiming that Zondo was biased against him. Mogomotsi Magome, Star Tribune, "Former South Africa president testifies before commission," 16 Nov. 2020 During a heated hearing on the motion to dismiss in September, Powell, Flynn's attorney said Sullivan should recuse himself. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, "President Trump pardons ex-natl security adviser Michael Flynn; ends three-year legal odyssey," 25 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for recuse

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The first known use of recuse was in 1829

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Last Updated

28 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Recuse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for recuse

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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