What It Means
1 a : to cause to be set aside
b : to force out of use as inferior
2 : to take the place or position of
3 : to displace in favor of another
"What may someday supersede Einstein's hypothesis is any genius' good guess. In the meantime, not only the theory of relativity but also Newton's laws, with all their known limitations, serve us rather well in navigating through space and in constructing bridges and dams on earth." — Henry Petroski, To Engineer is Human, 1992
"This park also supersedes what must have been the world's cleverest playground—a 10-foot-high fort made of telephone poles or logs up the hill at Rocky Ridge Park. (That simple, but popular play area was dismantled. Kids kept getting their heads stuck between the poles.)" — Jim McClure, The York (Pennsylvania) Daily Record, 5 May 2019
Did You Know?
Supersede ultimately derives from the Latin verb supersedēre, meaning "to sit on top of" (sedēre means "to sit"), "to be superior to," or "to refrain from," but it came to us through Scots Middle English, where it was rendered superceden and used in the sense of "to defer." It will come as no surprise that modern English speakers can be confused about how to spell this word—it sometimes turns up as supercede. In fact, some of the earliest records of the word in English show it spelled with a c. The s spelling has been the dominant choice since the 16th century, and while both spellings can be etymologically justified, supersede is now regarded as the "correct" version.
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
Fill in the blanks to complete a sedēre descendant that refers to a judicial inquest: a _ si _ e.VIEW THE ANSWER
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