verb suc·ceed \sək-ˈsēd\

Definition of succeed

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1a :  to come next after another in office or position or in possession of an estate; especially :  to inherit sovereignty, rank, or titleb :  to follow after another in order

  3. 2a :  to turn out wellb :  to attain a desired object or end students who succeed in college

  4. 3 obsolete :  to pass to a person by inheritance

  5. transitive verb
  6. 1 :  to follow in sequence and especially immediately

  7. 2 :  to come after as heir or successor



Examples of succeed in a sentence

  1. Ghosh's remarkable detective work succeeds in rescuing an entire group of marginalized figures from British and South Asian amnesia, if not outright denial. —Maya Jasanoff, New York Review of Books, 18 Dec. 2008

  2. Enter Gordon Brown. Journalistic legend has it that, over dinner in a trendy London restaurant as long ago as 1994, the two of them settled that Blair would lead the Labour party for an unspecified length of time and Brown would then succeed him. —David Pryce-Jones, National Review, 28 May 2007

  3. Maguire, a freelance writer who specializes in culture and technology and recently published a book about spelling bees, paints a vivid portrait of Sullivan as a tough-minded micromanager who tightly controlled every aspect of his show, even telling Ella Fitzgerald what to sing. Behind the avuncular, slightly befuddled façade viewers knew, he writes, was a man consumed by ambition and driven to succeed at any cost. —Peter Keepnews, New York Times Book Review, 11 June 2006

  4. You can succeed where others failed.

  5. The plan just might succeed.

  6. Their attempt seemed unlikely to succeed.

  7. Both of them have ambitions to succeed the prime minister.

  8. She will succeed him as chair of the committee.

  9. The Queen died and was succeeded by James I.

  10. James I succeeded to the throne upon the Queen's death in 1603.

Origin and Etymology of succeed

Middle English succeden, from Anglo-French succeeder, from Latin succedere to go up, follow after, succeed, from sub- near + cedere to go — more at sub-

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of succeed

follow, succeed, ensue, supervene mean to come after something or someone. follow may apply to a coming after in time, position, or logical sequence. speeches followed the dinner succeed implies a coming after immediately in a sequence determined by natural order, inheritance, election, or laws of rank. she succeeded her father as head of the business ensue commonly suggests a logical consequence or naturally expected development. after the talk a general discussion ensued supervene suggests the following or beginning of something unforeseen or unpredictable. unable to continue because of supervening circumstances

SUCCEED Defined for English Language Learners


verb suc·ceed \sək-ˈsēd\

Definition of succeed for English Language Learners

  • : to do what you are trying to do : to achieve the correct or desired result

  • : to happen in the planned or desired way

  • : to come after (something) in a series

SUCCEED Defined for Kids


verb suc·ceed \sək-ˈsēd\

Definition of succeed for Students




  1. 1 :  to achieve a desired result :  be successful Half of them wanted me to mess up, and half of them wanted me to succeed. — Jack Gantos, Joey Pigza Loses Control

  2. 2 :  to turn out well The plan succeeded.

  3. 3 :  to come after :  follow This new model of car succeeds the old one.

  4. 4 :  to come next after another person in office or position

Law Dictionary


intransitive verb suc·ceed \sək-ˈsēd\

Legal Definition of succeed

  1. 1 :  to come next after another in office or position

  2. 2a :  to take something by succession succeeded to his mother's estate b :  to acquire the rights, obligations, and charges of a decedent in property comprising an estate the heir, who accepts, is considered as having succeeded to the deceased from the moment of his death — Louisiana Civil Code

  3. transitive verb
  4. 1 :  to follow in sequence and especially immediately

  5. 2 :  to come after as heir or successor

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up succeed? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to help become familiar with something

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • ludwig-richter-spring-has-arrived
  • Which is a synonym of upbraid?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.