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From late Middle English abolisshen, from Middle French aboliss-, extended stem of abolir,[1] from Latin abolēre (to retard, check the growth of, (and by extension) destroy, abolish), and inchoative abolēscere (to wither, vanish, cease),[2] probably from ab (from, away from) + *olēre (to increase, grow).[3]


  • (UK) enPR: ə-bŏl'ĭsh IPA(key): /əˈbɒlɪʃ/
  • (US) IPA(key): /əˈbɑl.ɪʃ/, /əˈbɑl.əʃ/
  • (file)


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

  1. To end a law, system, institution, custom or practice. [First attested from around 1350 to 1470.][4]
    Synonyms: abrogate, annul, cancel, dissolve, nullify, repeal, revoke
    Antonyms: establish, found
    Slavery was abolished in the nineteenth century.
    • 2002, William Schabas, The abolition of the death penalty in international law, Cambridge University Press, title:
      The abolition of the death penalty in international law
  2. (archaic) To put an end to or destroy, as a physical object; to wipe out. [First attested from around 1350 to 1470.][4]
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene:
      And with thy blood abolish so reproachful blot.
    • 1892, Alfred Tennyson, The Marriage of Geraint:
      His quick instinctive hand Caught at the hilt, as to abolish him.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

Terms derived from Latin “abolēre”


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  1. ^ abolisshen, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2018, retrieved 20 October 2019.
  2. ^ Laurence Urdang (editor), The Random House College Dictionary (Random House, 1984 [1975], →ISBN), page 4
  3. ^ Philip Babcock Gove (editor), Webster's Third International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (G. & C. Merriam Co., 1976 [1909], →ISBN), page 4
  4. 4.0 4.1 Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors (2002), “abolish”, in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 6.