Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To seize and hold (the power or rights of another, for example) by force or without legal authority. See Synonyms at appropriate.
  • transitive v. To take over or occupy without right: usurp a neighbor's land.
  • transitive v. To take the place of (another) without legal authority; supplant.
  • intransitive v. To seize another's place, authority, or possession wrongfully.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To seize power from another, usually by illegitimate means.
  • v. To use and assume the coat of arms of another person.
  • v. To make use of.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To commit forcible seizure of place, power, functions, or the like, without right; to commit unjust encroachments; to be, or act as, a usurper.
  • transitive v. To seize, and hold in possession, by force, or without right

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To seize and hold possession of, as of some important or dignified place, office, power, or property, by force or without right; seize, appropriate, or assume illegally or wrongfully: as, to usurp a throne; to usurp the prerogatives of the crown; to usurp power.
  • To assume, in a wider sense; put on; sometimes, to counterfeit.
  • To be or act as a usurper; hence, to commit illegal seizure; encroach: with on or upon.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. take the place of
  • v. seize and take control without authority and possibly with force; take as one's right or possession

Etymologies

Middle English usurpen, from Old French usurper, from Latin ūsūrpāre, to take into use, usurp; see reup- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French usurper, from Latin ūsūrpāre (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • But she used the magic word usurp, which is always big ...

    CNN Transcript Sep 30, 2009

  • I wondered who the skinny Black guy was trying to 'usurp' my candidate's position, then I heard him speak.

    Kennedy remembered as an advocate for all

  • At the weekly news conference in Moscow, a Russian foreign-ministry spokesman said neighboring countries were free to choose alliances and denied Moscow was attempting to "usurp" other nations 'international rights.

    Rebuking Russian Ambitions, U.S. Backs Ukraine for NATO

  • For extending deadlines and allowing hand recounts, Bush accused the Florida Supreme Court of trying to "usurp" the legislature's power.

    Full Court Press

  • So they clearly know in the Obama campaign that he's been able to kind of usurp that mantle and bring change and the maverick thing.

    CNN Transcript Sep 8, 2008

  • So, they clearly know in the Obama campaign that he's been able to kind of usurp that mantle and bring change and the -- the maverick thing.

    CNN Transcript Sep 8, 2008

  • This flag contest has heightened tensions between the two communities with one accusing the other of trying to "usurp" areas which were traditionally dominated by them.

    Top Headlines

  • Qayum repeatedly expressed concern that the government might "usurp" the process: "An Afghan government-based negotiation would lead to everyone at the table demanding a slice of the government, but the government would be unable to satisfy all of these competing demands and would take the blame for the negotiations' failure."

    The Guardian World News

  • Ed Roberts of the Indiana Manufacturers Association says the bill would "usurp" business owners 'property rights.

    courierpress.com Stories

  • "A lot of us don't have the luxury of avoiding high-crime areas," Mr. Cooper said, noting that while businesses were arguing the bill would "usurp" their rights, inaction "usurps my right" to carry his handgun and protect himself.

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Comments

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  • I can never take this word seriously, my brain will insist on saying "you-slurp!" every time it's mentioned.

    September 24, 2009

  • the court usurp the powers of the legislature...legislative usurpation

    May 29, 2008