usurp

verb
\ 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

That drew a burst of anger from across the political spectrum, with critics accusing Johnson of usurping lawmakers’ powers and undermining Britain’s unwritten constitution. Laura King, Los Angeles Times, "U.K. Parliament defies Boris Johnson and sets vote to block no-deal Brexit," 3 Sep. 2019 In the late fifth century, this Sinhalese prince killed his father, King Dhatusena, and seized the throne, usurping his brother, who fled to India. National Geographic, "The 'Lion Fortress' of Sri Lanka was swallowed by the jungle," 3 Sep. 2019 Two long-reigning kings of a Las Vegas magic act must put aside the secret feud between them to prevent a slick new performer from usurping the throne. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 1 - 7, 2019: John Wayne in ‘The Searchers’ and more," 30 Aug. 2019 The Ducks led the league in rushing for 10 straight seasons before the Wildcats usurped them in 2016. Michael Lev, azcentral, "Running back still at heart of Arizona, Pac-12 offenses," 22 Aug. 2019 The efforts to save the Hawaiian monk seal is not an issue of the mainland usurping Hawaiian sovereignty, Jones insisted. Justin Rohrlich, Quartz, "The US is seeking someone to broker peace between humans and seals," 7 Aug. 2019 In a story loosely based on Shakespeare’s play about the melancholy Dane, Scar is plotting to overthrow his brother and usurp his brother’s mate (Alfre Woodard) — and much worse — casting the blame on poor Simba. Michael O'sullivan, Twin Cities, "‘The Lion King’ feels way more like ‘Hamlet’ this time — and that’s why it’s so good," 18 July 2019 Joe Gomez, James Milner and Andy Robertson all usurped him at one point or another as the meaner, leaner Reds gegenpressed their way onwards and upwards. SI.com, "Farewell Alberto Moreno: The Last Remnant of Liverpool's Banter Era," 2 July 2019 Or, the phrase conjures nightmarish images of a ruthless, scheming Lady MacBeth, pulling the strings behind the scenes and usurping the power her husband came by honestly. Chloe Angyal, Marie Claire, "When Your Spouse Is a Politician, What Happens to You?," 27 June 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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Dictionary Entries near usurp

usurer

usurious

usurous

usurp

usurpative

usurpatory

usurpature

Statistics for usurp

Last Updated

18 Sep 2019

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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

formal : 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 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

usurp

verb
\ 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with usurp

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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