usurp

verb \ yu̇-ˈsərp also -ˈzərp \
Updated on: 9 Nov 2017

Definition of usurp

transitive verb
1 a :to seize and hold (office, place, functions, powers, etc.) in possession by force or without right
  • usurp a throne
b :to take or make use of without right
  • usurped the rights to her life story
2 :to take the place of by or as if by force :supplant
  • must not let stock responses based on inherited prejudice usurp careful judgment
intransitive verb
:to seize or exercise authority or possession wrongfully

usurpation

play \ˌyü-sər-ˈpā-shən also ˌyü-zər-\ noun

usurper

play \yu̇-ˈsər-pər also -ˈzər-\ noun

usurp was our Word of the Day on 05/11/2013. Hear the podcast!

Examples of usurp in a Sentence

  1. Some people have accused city council members of trying to usurp the mayor's power.

  2. attempting to usurp the throne

Recent Examples of usurp from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'usurp.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

Usurp was borrowed into English in the 14th century from the Anglo-French word usorper, which in turn derives from the Latin verb usurpare, meaning "to take possession of without a legal claim." Usurpare itself was formed by combining usu (a form of usus, meaning "use") and rapere ("to seize"). Other descendants of rapere in English include rapacious ("given to seizing or extorting what is coveted"), rapine ("the seizing and carrying away of things by force"), rapt (the earliest sense of which is "lifted up and carried away"), and ravish ("to seize and take away by violence").

Origin and Etymology of usurp

Middle English, from Anglo-French usorper, from Latin usurpare to take possession of without legal claim, from usu (ablative of usus use) + rapere to seize — more at rapid


USURP Defined for English Language Learners

usurp

verb

Definition of usurp for English Language Learners

  • : to take and keep (something, such as power) in a forceful or violent way and especially without the right to do so


USURP Defined for Kids

usurp

verb \ yu̇-ˈsərp , -ˈzərp \

Definition of usurp for Students

usurped; usurping
:to take and hold unfairly or by force
  • The traitors usurp power from the king.

usurper

noun

Law Dictionary

usurp

verb \ yu̇-ˈsərp, -ˈzərp \

legal Definition of usurp

transitive verb
:to seize and hold (as office, place, or powers) in possession by force or without right
  • the courts may not usurp the powers of the legislature
intransitive verb
:to seize or exercise authority or possession wrongfully

usurpation

play \ˌyü-sər-ˈpā-shən, -zər-\ noun

usurper

play \yu̇-ˈsər-pər, -ˈzər-\ noun

Origin and Etymology of usurp

Latin usurpare to take possession of without a strict legal claim, from usus use + rapere to seize



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