æ-brê-gayt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, transitive
Meaning: 1. To repeal, annul, cancel, or abolish something, such as a law. 2. To obviate, do away with, put an end to.
Notes: This word has a large and happy family. The person who abrogates is an abrogator who carries out the act of abrogation. Such an act is abrogative and any law that may be abrogated is abrogable. (Don't forget to drop the suffix -ate.) The adjectives, in their turn, have adverbs (abrogatively and abrogably), and nouns (abrogativeness and abrogability). Have fun.
In Play: Today's good verb applies to any type of regulation from an international law to a household rule: "The boss abrogated the company policy limiting visits to the water cooler to three per day when he found a dead chicken on his desk." The new meaning ("put an end to") originated in medicine, but now we can all use it: "Melanie found that a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream quickly abrogated all the tension that builds up in her during the workday."
Word History: Today's lexical darling came to English from Latin abrogatus, the past participle of abrogare "to repeal or annul", which is made up of ab "away" + the same rogare "to ask" that we see (and hear) in interrogate. In the Proto-Indo-European language, words containing [o] always had a variant containing [e], so the root, rog-, is the same as the reg- we see in regular and regal. It had to do with rule and, in fact, rule itself is an Old French reduction (riule) of Latin regula "rule, ruler". (We would like to thank Susan Lister who, as a rule, sends us very Good Words like this one.)
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