Is There A Better Word Than “Quit” When Leaving A Commitment?

Some people spend a good part of their working hours daydreaming of the moment they’re able to utter the words, “I quit!” And then there are others who dread the idea of having to step back, step down, or step away from their current job, project, or relationship.

Even when you’re ready to make a move, sometimes saying the word quit can be scary, especially when you view it as giving up instead of as moving on to a different opportunity. That may even be the reason why it has become more popular to “tender your resignation” in lieu of uttering this particular four-letter word. 

The word quit, which means “to stop, cease, or discontinue,” is a verb and has been in use since around 1175–1225. It comes from the Middle English quitte, which meant “exempt, freed, and acquitted of.” 

Today the word quit can be used when leaving a job, like so: I’ve decided it’s time for me to quit my managerial position here and take some more time at home.

It can also be used when stopping a habit: This is my last cigarette. I’m finally ready to quit smoking.

When it comes to expressing frustration, you might say: That’s it, I’m going to quit trying to do everything and just focus on writing my book.

But quit isn’t the only word that gets the job done or lets people know that you’re done with the job. Check out these nine other (and maybe better) words that mean “That’s it, I’m outta here!”

abdicate

You can abdicate (or “give up or renounce“) your authority, duties, or office. It’s a great way to give up a formal role—Edward VIII was the first English monarch to do so in 1936 so he could follow his heart and marry divorced American Wallis Warfield Simpson—but if you’re not royalty you may just want to use it to back away from your duties on a board or other elected position. 

The word abdicate is first recorded around 1535–45, and comes from the Latin abdicātus (“renounced”).  

If you want to leave an appointed, elected, or inherited role in your life (Prince Harry, we’re looking at you), you can choose abdicate instead of quit, since the word is traditionally used to remove yourself from a position of power. You might say, “I appreciate all of the time that I’ve spent working on the board, but I’m going to abdicate my role and go back to participating in school board meetings as just a parent.” 

depart

If it is your time to depart (or “to go away or leave”) from your job or a project, you can announce your decision to do so by using this word first found in English around 1175–1225. Stemming from the Middle English word departen, it is a great way to announce your separation from something. There can be a sadness associated with the word departing, which is probably why departed is a popular euphemism for death. (Unless, that is, you are ready to depart on your vacation. In which case we wish you well and humbly request a postcard.)

If it is your time to leave, consider announcing it this way: “While I’ve appreciated all the work that we’ve done together, it’s time for me to depart from the leadership here and embark on my next role.” This gives you room to announce where you’re heading next. It can also allow space for you to appoint your successor: “While I’ll miss everyone here, Della will be taking over my role after my departure. I know you’ll be in good hands under her leadership.” 

exit

The verb exit, which is synonymous with to go, is the perfect way to let people know that your time with them is through. (That is probably why when you leave most jobs you will get an exit interview on your way out.) 

Originating in 1580–90 from the Latin exitus, or “act or means of going out,” exit has long been a popular way of saying “to go.” Exit stage left, anyone? 

Shakespeare famously talked about exits when he said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances …” You can announce your intentions of quitting your job, or just that it is quitting time, by using the word exit (although, probably with a little less drama than the Bard) by saying something like, “Oh wow, it’s getting late. I better make my exit.” If you’re looking to leave your position, you can try, “Unfortunately I’ll need to exit my role here with the company at the end of the quarter.”

Exit is a good swap for the word quit because it does not imply fault to either party. 

relinquish

That uber-popular song from Frozen would have probably hit a little differently if Elsa had belted out the word relinquish, which means “to renounce, surrender, or give up,” instead of let it go … 

Relinquish was first recorded in 1425–75 and is ultimately derived from the Latin word relinquere (“to leave behind”).

The word is most commonly used to talk about giving up rights, especially in child custody cases where parental rights are relinquished, but you can use it to announce that you’re walking away from a project: “I’ve decided that it’s time to relinquish my role on this rewrite. I think I’ve taken it as far as I can and it’s time for someone new to take the reins.” This phrasing is especially suited for indicating that you’re stepping aside to let someone else take over.

We tend to use the word relinquish  (just like the synonym surrender) to indicate giving control to someone or something else.

renounce

Did you renounce (or “give up voluntarily or disown”) your citizenship after a particularly contentious election? If you are feeling the pull to call another nation home, you would have to go through a complex (and often expensive) process in order to quit your country. For example: “My husband and I decided to renounce our citizenship and move to the Netherlands. We just can’t afford the high cost of health insurance any longer.” 

The word renounce was first recorded in 1325–75. It is derived from the Latin word renūntiāre, which means “to bring back word, disclaim.”

While the word renounce is perfect for saying goodbye to your country of origin, you can also use it to give up a right to an inheritance or debt that is owed to you: “That’s OK, Billy, don’t worry about paying me back that money I lent you. I renounce the note.”

The word renounce is the perfect swap for when you want an official- or legal-sounding word. 

retire

At a certain age you can retire (or “withdraw or go away from a place”). In the United States you can retire from your job just over the age of 66. You can retire from an event or an activity (we like to retire to bed by 9pm around here, thank you very much). 

People have been using the word retire since around 1525–35. And it comes from the Middle French word retirer, which means “to withdraw.”

If you are 25 years old and have decided to leave the world of retail, you could announce your retirement from the world of retail (which is less “take this job and shove it” and more “take this job and shove it aside to make room for my new career”).

To take your leave, try saying, “I’ve decided to retire from the food service industry. I’m giving my two weeks notice, and then I’m going to start working for the administration at my daughter’s school.”

surrender

We’ve all wanted to surrender (or “yield or give up”) at one point or another—especially when faced with a seemingly impossible task or a job, like in 1781, when the British forces surrendered at Yorktown after a month-long battle. 

The word surrender has been around since 1425–75 and is derived from the Old French word surrendre (“to give up”).

Try replacing “I quit” with “I surrender” in situations where you want to step away while also sending the message that you put up a good fight: “OK, I surrender. I’ve rebooted my computer 10 times, and it keeps crashing every time my video loads. I’m just going to have to be done with virtual meetings for the day.”

Swapping the word surrender for the word quit brings to mind images of soldiers doing battle and long drawn out police chases, which makes it seem like you gave your all before you finally yelled “uncle.” 

vacate

You can vacate (orwithdraw from occupancy or surrender possession on”) a lease. You can also vacate (“or leave”) a position within a company or office. If you want to break a lease, you can let your landlord know you wish to vacate the terms of your original agreement. In this situation, the term vacate is a legal one, and it can sometimes be called a notice to vacate or a notice of intent to vacate

The word vacate was first recorded around 1635–45, and it comes from the Latin verb vacāre (“to be empty”). 

You should use the word vacate in reference to an original agreement. For example, “I’ve loved living here, but my employment situation has changed, and I’d like to know if I can vacate my lease.” If it is a job or contract position you would like to leave, you can use similar phrasing: “I’ll need to move at the end of the month, so I’m going to need to vacate my contract, unfortunately.”

withdraw

Want to withdraw (“retire, retreat, or cease working with” your employer)? Or maybe remove yourself for consideration for a job or position? Consider using the word withdraw. It is the perfect way to say “thanks, but no thanks” when you want to step away.

In 2020, Texas Representative John Ratcliffe withdrew his nomination for director of national intelligence after questions over his qualifications were brought to light. By withdrawing he was able to put an end to the review of his application and his bid for director. 

First recorded around 1175–1225, the word withdraw comes from the Middle English word withdrawen.

Use the word withdraw when you want to tell your prospective employer “It’s not you, it’s me.” You can try saying, “Upon second thought I need to withdraw my name for consideration for the manager position. The hours just won’t work for my work/life balance.” 

 

After all that quitting … have you ever wondered what the word acquit means and where it comes from? Watch more about the word below.

WATCH: What Does "Acquit" Actually Mean?

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