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verb (used with object), dis·placed, dis·plac·ing.
  1. to compel (a person or persons) to leave home, country, etc.
  2. to move or put out of the usual or proper place.
  3. to take the place of; replace; supplant: Fiction displaces fact.
  4. to remove from a position, office, or dignity.
  5. Obsolete. to rid oneself of.

Origin of displace

1545–55; dis-1 + place, perhaps modeled on Middle French desplacer
Related formsdis·place·a·ble, adjectivepre·dis·place, verb (used with object), pre·dis·placed, pre·dis·plac·ing.un·dis·place·a·ble, adjective

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Synonym study

2. Displace, misplace mean to put something in a different place from where it should be. To displace often means to shift something solid and comparatively immovable, more or less permanently from its place: The flood displaced houses from their foundations. To misplace is to put an object in a wrong place so that it is difficult to find: Papers belonging in the safe were misplaced and temporarily lost.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for displace


verb (tr)
  1. to move from the usual or correct location
  2. to remove from office or employment
  3. to occupy the place of; replace; supplant
  4. to force (someone) to leave home or country, as during a war
  5. chem to replace (an atom or group in a chemical compound) by another atom or group
  6. physics to cause a displacement of (a quantity of liquid, usually water of a specified type and density)
Derived Formsdisplaceable, adjectivedisplacer, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for displace

1550s, from Middle French desplacer (15c.), from des- (see dis-) + placer "to place." Related: Displaced; displacing. Displaced person "refugee" is from 1944.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper