• synonyms


[yoo-surp, -zurp]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to seize and hold (a position, office, power, etc.) by force or without legal right: The pretender tried to usurp the throne.
  2. to use without authority or right; employ wrongfully: The magazine usurped copyrighted material.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to commit forcible or illegal seizure of an office, power, etc.; encroach.
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Origin of usurp

1275–1325; Middle English < Latin ūsūrpāre to take possession through use, equivalent to ūsū (ablative of ūsus use (noun)) + -rp-, reduced form of -rip-, combining form of rapere to seize + -āre infinitive ending
Related formsu·surp·er, nounu·surp·ing·ly, adverbnon·u·surp·ing, adjectivenon·u·surp·ing·ly, adverbself-u·surp, verb (used without object)un·u·surped, adjectiveun·u·surp·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for usurped

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • This was the rival whose place I had virtually, though not officially, usurped.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • The mother's authority has been usurped by her male kindred, usually her brother.

    The Truth About Woman

    C. Gasquoine Hartley

  • Let us not be in haste to overthrow the usurped powers of the world.

  • She no longer felt that she had stolen the rose or usurped attention.

    The Gorgeous Girl

    Nalbro Bartley

  • His functions were usurped by a military league and his sons removed from the army.

    England and Germany

    Emile Joseph Dillon

British Dictionary definitions for usurped


  1. to seize, take over, or appropriate (land, a throne, etc) without authority
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Derived Formsusurpation, nounusurpative or usurpatory, adjectiveusurper, noun

Word Origin

C14: from Old French usurper, from Latin ūsūrpāre to take into use, probably from ūsus use + rapere to seize
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 usurped



early 14c., from Old French usurper, from Latin usurpare "make use of, seize for use," in Late Latin "to assume unlawfully," from usus "a use" (see use) + rapere "to seize" (see rapid). Related: Usurped; usurping.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper