To seize and hold power or authority in a forceful or illegal manner; to take something without permission or right.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



Seize, seize illegally, take over, appropriate, commandeer, arrogate, expropriate.


Surrender, relinquish, yield, cede, release.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun usurpations, usurper, usurpers, usurpation
Verb usurped, usurps, usurp, usurping
Adjective None
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • The military dictator had usurped power in a coup and had been ruling the country with an iron fist for over a decade.

  • The greedy businessman had usurped control of the company by forcing out the founder and buying up all the shares.

  • The rebel group had usurped control of the government and declared a new regime.

  • The young prince had usurped the throne from his older brother, who was deemed unfit to rule.


The word “usurp” comes from the Latin word “usurpare,” which means “to seize and hold.” It is often used in the context of politics or power struggles, where one person or group attempts to take control of something that they are not entitled to. Usurpation can happen through force, deception, or other means, and is generally considered illegal or unethical.

The term can also be used in non-political contexts, such as when someone takes something that does not belong to them, like usurping someone else’s parking spot or taking credit for someone else’s work. In these cases, the connotation is still negative, as the action is seen as unjust or unfair.

The prefix “us-” means “to use or employ,” while the root “-surp” comes from the Latin “surpere,” meaning “to take or seize.” The suffix “-ation” is used to indicate the act or process of something. Therefore, “usurpation” is the act or process of seizing or taking something that does not belong to you.

In summary, the word “usurp” refers to the act of taking control of something by force or without permission. It is typically used in the context of power struggles or illegal activities, and has a negative connotation.