\ yu̇-ˈsərp How to pronounce usurp (audio) also -ˈzərp How to pronounce usurp (audio) \
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 How to pronounce usurpation (audio) also  ˌyü-​zər-​ \ 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 For the second time in the Champions League this month, Ronaldo had the headlines ripped away from him after being usurped by the actions of a teammate. Dominic Rech, CNN, "Paulo Dybala steals show from Cristiano Ronaldo in Champions League with thunderbolt strike," 26 Nov. 2019 Defeat at West Brom on Saturday means that Tottenham have not yet secured their Champions League berth and may need to win both of their remaining games to avoid being usurped by Chelsea., "Spurs Stars to Miss Out on Lucrative Bonuses Upon Possible Failure to Qualify for Champions League," 8 May 2018 The women of Shaheen Bagh have weathered one of Delhi’s worst winters, the fear of being forced out of their protest site, and their revolution being usurped by political organisations. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "At a women-led protest site in India, Muslims navigate identity, hope, and despair," 2 Jan. 2020 Imus engaged in a long-running feud with shock jock Howard Stern, who usurped Imus' position as the No. Arkansas Online, "Former radio host Don Imus dies at 79," 28 Dec. 2019 Imus frequently sparred with fellow shock jock Howard Stern, who usurped Imus' position as the No. Cydney Henderson, USA TODAY, "Legendary shock jock Don Imus: 5 incendiary moments heard 'round the world," 28 Dec. 2019 Mike Beaudry started three games at quarterback, before ultimately being usurped by Jack Zergiotis. Alex Putterman,, "Nearly 20 UConn football players plan to transfer from the program. Here’s what to know about them.," 12 Dec. 2019 Rihanna usurped New York Fashion Week with her Savage x Fenty show. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, "Gigi Hadid Looks Heavenly, Plus More Shoppable Looks from Rihanna's Iconic NYFW Show," 18 Sep. 2019 As a result of the December 2014 incident, she was convicted for usurping a pilot’s authority and spent five months in prison. Kyunghee Park / Bloomberg, Time, "In New Scandal, South Korean 'Nut Rage' Heiress Releases Letter Criticizing Management of Family Business," 24 Dec. 2019

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

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Last Updated

20 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Usurp.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for usurp


How to pronounce usurp (audio) How to pronounce usurp (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of usurp

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


\ yu̇-ˈsərp How to pronounce usurp (audio) , -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


\ yu̇-ˈsərp, -ˈzərp How to pronounce usurp (audio) \

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-​ How to pronounce usurpation (audio) \ noun
usurper \ yu̇-​ˈsər-​pər, -​ˈzər-​ How to pronounce usurper (audio) \ 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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More from Merriam-Webster on usurp

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for usurp

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with usurp

Spanish Central: Translation of usurp

Nglish: Translation of usurp for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of usurp for Arabic Speakers

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