Merriam Webster Word of the Day: Abdicate

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is abdicate. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

To abdicate is to renounce or relinquish a position of usually sovereign power. It can also mean “to cast off; discard.”

// The king was forced to abdicate after long-standing controversy.

// She abdicated her position in response to the allegations.

// There can be serious repercussions when someone abdicates their responsibilities.

ABDICATE in Context

“American literature is peopled with runaways—those brave, brazen, or simply compromised enough to abdicate their responsibilities and take to the road.” — The New Yorker, 4 July 2022

Did You Know?

Give it up for abdicate, a word powerful enough to undo a coronation. If you need a term to describe formally throwing in the towel, this one should prove—perhaps ironically—a royal success. Coming from the prefix ab- (meaning “from,” “away,” or “off”) and the Latin verb dīcere (meaning “to speak”), abdicate is used primarily for those who give up sovereign power or who evade a very serious responsibility. English has dīcere to thank for a hodgepodge of other words, among them dictatecontradictprediction, and the crown jewel of them all: dictionary.

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