Definition of usurp
- usurp a throne
- usurped the rights to her life story
- must not let stock responses based on inherited prejudice usurp careful judgment
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Some people have accused city council members of trying to usurp the mayor's power.
attempting to usurp the throne
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.
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").
: to take and keep (something, such as power) in a forceful or violent way and especially without the right to do so
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