verb suc·cumb \sə-ˈkəm\

Definition of succumb

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 :  to yield to superior strength or force or overpowering appeal or desire succumb to temptation

  3. 2 :  to be brought to an end (such as death) by the effect of destructive or disruptive forces

succumb was our Word of the Day on 01/31/2015. Hear the podcast!

Examples of succumb in a sentence

  1. Lepanto occupies a curious military fault line between ancient and modern. It was fought with galleys almost identical to those that had clashed in this same gulf sixteen centuries before, when the ships of Antony and Cleopatra succumbed to those of Octavian at the Battle of Actium. —Colin Thubron, New York Times Book Review, 9 Apr. 2009

  2. Last spring, the Knight Ridder chain succumbed to pressure from its largest private investor and sold off its entire lineup of 32 papers to the McClatchy Co. for more than $4 billion. —Eric Klinenberg, Mother Jones, March/April 2007

  3. Yet after Paul died in 1978 and his successor John Paul I succumbed to a heart attack only 34 days into his papacy, Wojyla was so oblivious to his impending fate that he spent the first day of the new papal conclave nonchalantly browsing through a quarterly review of Marxist theory. —David Van Biema, Time, 11 Apr. 2005

  4. Interviews with cadets, police officers and investigators trying to crack down on crime inside Mexico City's 80,000-officer force revealed that even the most earnest cops often succumb to the temptations that are both plentiful and low risk. —Alan Zarembo, Newsweek, 4 Dec. 2000

  5. They will pressure you, and you must try not to succumb.

  6. he finally succumbed and let his wife get rid of his dilapidated easy chair

Did You Know?

If the idea of someone succumbing brings to mind the image of a person lying down before more powerful forces, you have an excellent grasp of the Latin that gave us succumb. Succumb derives from the French word succomber, which is itself from the Latin word succumbere, meaning "to fall down" or "to yield." Succumbere was formed by combining sub-, meaning "under," with -cumbere, meaning "to lie down." The earliest application of succumb in the late 15th century was as a transitive verb meaning "to bring down" or "to overwhelm," but this sense is now obsolete. The current sense of "to yield" first appeared in print in the early 17th century; the more specific use-yielding to a disease or other destructive force-followed two centuries later.

Origin and Etymology of succumb

French & Latin; French succomber, from Latin succumbere, from sub- + -cumbere to lie down; akin to Latin cubare to lie

First Known Use: 1604

Synonym Discussion of succumb

yield, submit, capitulate, succumb, relent, defer mean to give way to someone or something that one can no longer resist. yield may apply to any sort or degree of giving way before force, argument, persuasion, or entreaty. yields too easily in any argument submit suggests full surrendering after resistance or conflict to the will or control of another. a repentant sinner vowing to submit to the will of God capitulate stresses the fact of ending all resistance and may imply either a coming to terms (as with an adversary) or hopelessness in the face of an irresistible opposing force. officials capitulated to the protesters' demands succumb implies weakness and helplessness to the one that gives way or an overwhelming power to the opposing force. a stage actor succumbing to the lure of Hollywood relent implies a yielding through pity or mercy by one who holds the upper hand. finally relented and let the children stay up late defer implies a voluntary yielding or submitting out of respect or reverence for or deference and affection toward another. I defer to your expertise in these matters

SUCCUMB Defined for English Language Learners


verb suc·cumb \sə-ˈkəm\

Definition of succumb for English Language Learners

  • : to stop trying to resist something

  • : to die

SUCCUMB Defined for Kids


verb suc·cumb \sə-ˈkəm\

Definition of succumb for Students




  1. 1 :  to yield to force or pressure Don't succumb to temptation.

  2. 2 :  1die 1

Seen and Heard

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


a trip made at another's expense

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