usurp

verb
\yu̇-ˈsərp also -ˈzərp \
usurped; usurping; usurps

Definition of usurp 

transitive verb

1a : 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

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Other Words from usurp

usurpation \ ˌyü-​sər-​ˈpā-​shən also  ˌyü-​zər-​ \ noun
usurper \ yu̇-​ˈsər-​pər also  -​ˈzər-​ \ noun

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").

Examples of usurp in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples on the Web

The letter castigates Comey for usurping the authority of his Justice Department bosses by announcing the conclusion of the Clinton investigation without seeking their approval, a criticism echoed by the inspector general last month. CBS News, "Report: Trump's lawyers blast Comey as "Machiavellian" in memo to Mueller," 7 July 2018 The letter castigates Comey for usurping the authority of his Justice Department bosses by announcing the conclusion of the Clinton investigation without seeking their approval, a criticism echoed by the inspector general last month. Eric Tucker, Fox News, "Trump lawyers attacked Comey as 'Machiavellian' in memo to Mueller," 7 July 2018 The letter castigates Comey for usurping the authority of his Justice Department bosses by announcing the conclusion of the Clinton investigation without seeking their approval, a criticism echoed by the inspector general last month. BostonGlobe.com, "Trump lawyers call Comey ‘Machiavellian’ in note to Mueller," 7 July 2018 The letter also castigates Comey for usurping the authority of his Justice Department bosses by announcing the conclusion of the Clinton investigation without seeking their approval, a criticism echoed by the inspector general last month. Eric Tucker And Chad Day, chicagotribune.com, "Trump lawyers call Comey 'Machiavellian' in confidential memo to Mueller," 7 July 2018 The lawmakers said the State Supreme Court had usurped the legislature’s role in violation of federal law. Adam Liptak, New York Times, "Supreme Court Won’t Block New Pennsylvania Voting Maps," 19 Mar. 2018 The global nations league also would usurp UEFA’s own version of a similar competition, which begins its first edition later this year. Tariq Panja, New York Times, "FIFA’s Infantino Calls for Rare Emergency Meeting Amid $25 Billion Offer," 23 Apr. 2018 Of course, companies like Ambry have an interest in making sure their business is not usurped by consumer-testing firms. Gina Kolata, The Seattle Times, "Online gene test finds dangerous mutation, but it may be wrong," 2 July 2018 Of course, companies like Ambry have an interest in making sure their business is not usurped by consumer testing firms. Gina Kolata, New York Times, "The Online Gene Test Finds a Dangerous Mutation. It May Well Be Wrong.," 2 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of usurp

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for 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

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Dictionary Entries near usurp

usurer

usurious

usurous

usurp

usurpative

usurpatory

usurpature

Statistics for usurp

Last Updated

30 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for usurp

The first known use of usurp was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for usurp

usurp

verb

English Language Learners Definition of usurp

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

usurp

verb
\yu̇-ˈsərp, -ˈzərp\
usurped; usurping

Kids Definition of usurp

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

Other Words from usurp

usurper noun

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

Other Words from usurp

usurpation \ ˌyü-​sər-​ˈpā-​shən, -​zər-​ \ noun
usurper \ yu̇-​ˈsər-​pər, -​ˈzər-​ \ noun

History and Etymology for usurp

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

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