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 Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett recuse herself in the case because the group spent more than a million dollars supporting her confirmation last year. John Fritze, USA TODAY, "Supreme Court to debate whether nonprofits must reveal donors despite threat of violence," 25 Apr. 2021 Should an executive’s duties conflict with his or her personal values, that executive may recuse him/herself from decision making, or resign from the company. Robert Zafft, Forbes, "Voting Laws: When Should CEOs Lead Their Companies Into Crossfires?," 12 Apr. 2021 Todd did not recuse, and in the same case, found Salvagio in contempt of court for violation of one of her orders. Carol Robinson |, al, "Jefferson County judge suspended after scathing abuse of power allegations," 9 Apr. 2021 In his 15-page order declining to recuse himself, Adelman recounts the main points of his article, and that three members of the public filed ethical complaints against him over it. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Paint companies ask Judge Lynn Adelman to step down from lead poisoning cases over essay he wrote. He declined.," 25 Mar. 2021 Last year, Bonta called for prosecutors to be required to recuse themselves from the investigation and prosecution of law enforcement misconduct if their election campaigns accept financial contributions from law enforcement unions. Patrick Mcgreevy, Los Angeles Times, "Rob Bonta named California attorney general, would be first Filipino American in role," 24 Mar. 2021 State Attorney General Chris Carr has once again rejected the Fulton County district attorney’s request to recuse her office from prosecuting the June 2020 shooting death of Rayshard Brooks. Bill Rankin, ajc, "State attorney general to DA Fani Willis: Again, no Brooks case recusal," 15 Feb. 2021 Yellen has agreed to recuse herself from decisions that would affect certain financial organizations. Martin Crutsinger And Brian Slodysko, Chron, "Janet Yellen wins Senate approval as treasury secretary," 25 Jan. 2021 Yellen has agreed to recuse herself from decisions that would affect certain financial organizations. Brian Slodysko,, "Janet Yellen wins Senate approval as treasury secretary," 25 Jan. 2021

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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Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Recuse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 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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