re·​lin·​quish ri-ˈliŋ-kwish How to pronounce relinquish (audio)
relinquished; relinquishing; relinquishes

transitive verb

: to withdraw or retreat from : leave behind
: give up
relinquish a title
: to stop holding physically : release
slowly relinquished his grip on the bar
: to give over possession or control of : yield
few leaders willingly relinquish power
relinquishment noun
Choose the Right Synonym for relinquish

relinquish, yield, resign, surrender, abandon, waive mean to give up completely.

relinquish usually does not imply strong feeling but may suggest some regret, reluctance, or weakness.

relinquished her crown

yield implies concession or compliance or submission to force.

the troops yielded ground grudgingly

resign emphasizes voluntary relinquishment or sacrifice without struggle.

resigned her position

surrender implies a giving up after a struggle to retain or resist.

surrendered their claims

abandon stresses finality and completeness in giving up.

abandoned all hope

waive implies conceding or forgoing with little or no compulsion.

waived the right to a trial by jury

Examples of relinquish in a Sentence

They had turned to an open adoption after pursuing infertility treatments for 18 years, and the birth mother had agreed to relinquish custody at the hospital. Emily Nussbaum, Discover, January 2000
In April of that year Albert Slyusar, one of the legendary figures of the Afghanistan war, had relinquished command of 103 Guards Airborne Division. Carey Schofield, The Russian Elite, 1993
The feedback seems to operate on the premise that people who relinquish the civilized art of maintaining creative cities are not to be entrusted with the risks of developing further. Jane Jacobs, Cities and the Wealth of Nations, (1984) 1985
The Major no sooner heard the voice, than he relinquished Mr Dombey's arm, darted forward, took the hand of the lady in the chair and pressed it to his lips. Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son, 1848
I will not relinquish my rights. She was forced to relinquish control of the project. The court ordered him to relinquish custody of his child. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Now that the world has opened up again, many aren’t willing to relinquish all that comfort and go back to stiff and starchy fits. Michael Loré, Robb Report, 30 Nov. 2023 The national poll is less than six months away, and if history is any guide there is little chance that the government will relinquish its grip on the airwaves. Adil Rashid, WIRED, 28 Nov. 2023 His specific focus is its resistance to Japanese rule from the early 20th century until the end of World War II, when Japan relinquished control and Korea split into North and South. Jonathan Russell Clark, Los Angeles Times, 6 Nov. 2023 So, for Ukrainians, the idea of negotiation, the idea of relinquishing territory for an armistice, the idea of allowing Putin to get away with this without sitting at a military or international criminal tribunal, without paying reparations—that is anathema. David Remnick, The New Yorker, 3 Oct. 2023 Now the ketamine was forcing her to relinquish that dominance. Daliah Singer, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Nov. 2023 Yet American critics of climate diplomacy deride the risk associated with depending on China and relinquishing battery production. Ann Scott Tyson, The Christian Science Monitor, 2 Nov. 2023 But sometimes the wise move is to voluntarily relinquish power. George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, 30 Oct. 2023 Republicans joined with all Democrats in voting for a motion to vacate, forcing McCarthy to relinquish his post. WSJ, 4 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'relinquish.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English relinquisshen, from Anglo-French relinquiss-, stem of relinquir, from Latin relinquere to leave behind, from re- + linquere to leave — more at loan

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of relinquish was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near relinquish

Cite this Entry

“Relinquish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


re·​lin·​quish ri-ˈliŋ-kwish How to pronounce relinquish (audio)
: to withdraw or retreat from : leave behind
relinquished their homes and sailed to the New World
: to give over to the control or possession of another
relinquish a title
: to let go of : release
relinquish your grip on the bar
few leaders willingly relinquish power
relinquishment noun

More from Merriam-Webster on relinquish

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