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


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)


  • 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. 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.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • 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