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 After the 2020 war exposed Armenia’s military inferiority, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan conceded in April this year that his government is willing to relinquish its claims on the region. Christian Edwards, CNN, 20 Sep. 2023 While Gianfranco appears far from retiring, his son Jan, the general manager, is planning to take over wine buying when the elder Bucher is ready to relinquish the responsibility. Mike Desimone and Jeff Jenssen, Robb Report, 19 Sep. 2023 The only two actual oil and gas companies who had purchased leases already voluntarily relinquished theirs. Riley Rogerson, Anchorage Daily News, 17 Sep. 2023 The owner will be relinquishing a majority of the remaining dogs to the rescue organization. Summer Lin, Los Angeles Times, 12 Sep. 2023 But in fiscal year 2020, the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services, or MOHS, was forced to relinquish $10 million in funding the organization could have tapped from HUD due to problems with accessing the funds. Emily Opilo, Baltimore Sun, 12 Sep. 2023 In the real world, softer versions of pink have gained popularity in interiors, as warmer, cozier hues like taupe and beige replace grays and whites, reclaiming their spots that were relinquished in the early 2000s. Sharon Greenthal, Better Homes & Gardens, 30 Aug. 2023 These numbers contradict another poll pushed by VoteVets, a liberal veteran organization that opposes the holds, that showed that 58% of Alabama voters want Tuberville to relinquish his hold on military promotions. Reese Gorman, Washington Examiner, 30 Aug. 2023 The 10 departing schools have relinquished their voting rights. Jon Wilner | , oregonlive, 8 Sep. 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 23 Sep. 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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