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From Middle English abolisshen, from Middle French abolir ‎(to abolish), from Latin abolēre ‎(destroy, cause to die out), present active infinitive of aboleō ‎(destroy, abolish), abolesco ‎(to wither, to decay),[1] from ab ‎(from, away from) + oleō ‎(to grow).[2]



abolish ‎(third-person singular simple present abolishes, present participle abolishing, simple past and past participle abolished)

  1. To end a law, system, institution, custom or practice. [First attested from around 1350 to 1470.][3]
    Slavery was abolished in the nineteenth century.
    • 2002, William Schabas, The abolition of the death penalty in international law (Cambridge University Press):
  2. (archaic) To put an end to or destroy, as a physical object; to wipe out. [First attested from around 1350 to 1470.][3]
    • Edmund Spenser:
      And with thy blood abolish so reproachful blot.
    • Alfred Tennyson:
      His quick instinctive hand Caught at the hilt, as to abolish him.




  • (to end a law, system, institution, custom or practice): establish, found

Related terms[edit]


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  1. ^ Laurence Urdang (editor), The Random House College Dictionary (Random House, 1984 [1975], ISBN 0-394-43600-8), page 4
  2. ^ Philip Babcock Gove (editor), Webster's Third International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (G. & C. Merriam Co., 1976 [1909], ISBN 0-87779-101-5), page 4
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lesley Brown (editor), The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 5th edition (Oxford University Press, 2003 [1933], ISBN 978-0-19-860575-7), page 6