suc·​cumb sə-ˈkəm How to pronounce succumb (audio)
succumbed; succumbing; succumbs

intransitive verb

: to yield to superior strength or force or overpowering appeal or desire
succumb to temptation
: to be brought to an end (such as death) by the effect of destructive or disruptive forces

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 English 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 decades later.

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of succumb in a Sentence

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
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
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
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
They will pressure you, and you must try not to succumb. he finally succumbed and let his wife get rid of his dilapidated easy chair See More
Recent Examples on the Web Flowers said Murphy succumbed to his injuries and died at the hospital a short time later. Stepheny Price, Fox News, 23 Nov. 2023 Estep attempted to run away from the gas station but collapsed in the street and succumbed to his wounds at a nearby hospital. Jenny Goldsberry, Washington Examiner, 18 Nov. 2023 Yet this is no time to lose faith, retreat and succumb to the siren song of American decline. WSJ, 17 Nov. 2023 But two wrongs do not make a right, and history does not favor those who succumb to emotion and rely on military means to counter the threat of terror. Shivshankar Menon, Foreign Affairs, 16 Nov. 2023 She was hit by a vehicle while crossing a street in Pasadena, California, and succumbed to her injuries in hospital. Deidre Olsen, WIRED, 15 Nov. 2023 One succumbed to his injuries despite life-saving measures, while the second is in stable condition, Henderson said. Patricio Chile, ABC News, 11 Nov. 2023 The 25-year-old was rushed to the hospital and lost a lung before succumbing to his wounds nearly a week after the shooting. Samira Asma-Sadeque, Peoplemag, 3 Nov. 2023 He was treated by EMS but ultimately succumbed to his injuries, officials said. Victoria Arancio, ABC News, 14 Nov. 2023 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1604, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of succumb was in 1604


Dictionary Entries Near succumb

Cite this Entry

“Succumb.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


suc·​cumb sə-ˈkəm How to pronounce succumb (audio)
: to yield to force or pressure
succumb to temptation
: die entry 1 sense 1
many of the early settlers succumbed during the winter

More from Merriam-Webster on succumb

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!