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From Middle English usurpen, from Old French usurper, from Latin ūsūrpō.



usurp (third-person singular simple present usurps, present participle usurping, simple past and past participle usurped)

  1. To seize power from another, usually by illegitimate means.
  2. To use and assume the coat of arms of another person.
  3. To take the place rightfully belonging to someone or something else.
    • c. 1619–1623, John Ford, “The Lavves of Candy”, in Comedies and Tragedies [], London: [] Humphrey Robinson, [], and for Humphrey Moseley [], published 1647, →OCLC, Act I, scene ii, page 52, column 1:
      But if now / You ſhould (as cruell fathers do) proclame / Your right, and Tyrant like uſurp the glory / Of my peculiar honours, not deriv'd / From ſucceſſary, but purchas'd with my bloud, / Then I muſt ſtand firſt Champion for my ſelfe, / Againſt all interpoſers.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, volumes (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: A[ndrew] Millar, [], →OCLC:
      Jones answered all his questions with much civility, though he never remembered to have seen the petty-fogger before; and though he concluded, from the outward appearance and behaviour of the man, that he usurped a freedom with his betters, to which he was by no means intitled.
  4. (obsolete) To make use of.
    • 1653, Henry More, “appendix”, in An Antidote against Atheisme, or An Appeal to the Natural Faculties of the Minde of Man, whether There Be Not a God, London: [] Roger Daniel, [], →OCLC:
      " [] especially considering that even Matter it self, in which they tumble and wallow, which they feel with their hands and usurp with all their Senses [] "

Related terms[edit]