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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Usurpation \U`sur*pa"tion\, n. [L. usurpatio ? making use, usurpation: cf. F. usurpation.]

  1. The act of usurping, or of seizing and enjoying; an authorized, arbitrary assumption and exercise of power, especially an infringing on the rights of others; specifically, the illegal seizure of sovereign power; -- commonly used with of, also used with on or upon; as, the usurpation of a throne; the usurpation of the supreme power.

    He contrived their destruction, with the usurpation of the regal dignity upon him.
    --Sir T. More.

    A law [of a State] which is a usurpation upon the general government.
    --O. Ellsworth.

    Manifest usurpation on the rights of other States.
    --D. Webster.

    Note: Usurpation, in a peculiar sense, formerly denoted the absolute ouster and dispossession of the patron of a church, by a stranger presenting a clerk to a vacant benefice, who us thereupon admitted and instituted.

  2. Use; usage; custom. [Obs.]
    --Bp. Pearson.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

late 14c., from Old French usurpacion, from Latin usurpationem (nominative usurpatio) "a taking into use," noun of action from past participle stem of usurpare (see usurp).


n. 1 The wrongful seizure of something by force, especially of sovereignty or other authority. 2 trespass onto another's property without permission.

  1. n. entry to another's property without right or permission [syn: trespass, encroachment, violation, intrusion]

  2. wrongfully seizing and holding (an office or powers) by force (especially the seizure of a throne or supreme authority); "a succession of generals who ruled by usurpation"

Usage examples of "usurpation".

It has been said that at the interview at Erfurt Bonaparte consented to the usurpation of that province by Alexander in return for the complaisance of the latter in acknowledging Joseph as King of Spain and the Indies.

Their attachment also to the ancient royal family had been much weakened by their habits of submission to the Danish princes, and by their late election of Harold or their acquiescence in his usurpation.

These men, uniting themselves to the enthusiasts, whose genius is naturally averse to clerical usurpations, exercised so jealous an authority over the assembly of divines, that they allowed them nothing but the liberty of tendering advice, and would not intrust them even with the power of electing their own chairman or his substitute, or of supplying the vacancies of their own members.

This might be so, but if Poland had possessed far-seeing statesmen they would have guessed that an honorary title would end in the usurpation of the whole country.

Rienzi felt the importance of justifying his usurpation by a regular form and a legal title.

The plebiscitum, which is simply an appeal to the people outside of government, is not valid when the government has not lapsed, either by its usurpations or by its dissolution, nor is it valid either in the case of a province, or of a population that has no organic existence as an independent sovereign state.

His heirs asserted their protectorate of the village of Riceys, and so maintained the usurpation.

You tried to justify your usurpation of this power in the Merryman case last year by claiming the Congress was not in session.

Theodosius, by soliciting his friendship, tacitly forgave, and almost ratified, the usurpation of Gaul.

Theodoric and his immediate successors, but every deed was rescinded and abolished which force had extorted, or fear had subscribed, under the usurpation of Totila.

In the foreground, therefore, I take the position that those who resisted violations of the compact were the true friends, and those who maintained the usurpation of undelegated powers were the real enemies of the constitutional Union.

Those who were most devoted to the Union of the Constitution might, consequently, be expected to resist most sternly any usurpation of undelegated power, the effect of which would be to warp the Federal Government from its proper character, and, by sapping the foundation, to destroy the Union of the States.

In any possible view of the case, therefore, the conclusion must be, that the calling on some of the States for seventy-five thousand militia to invade other States which were asserted to be still in the Union, was a palpable violation of the Constitution, and the usurpation of undelegated power, or, in other words, of power reserved to the States or to the people.

Again, in 1861, Missouri appealed to the Constitution for the vindication of her rights, and again did usurpation and the blind rage of a sectional party disregard the appeal, and assume powers, not only undelegated, but in direct violation of the fourth section of the fourth article of the Constitution, which every Federal officer had sworn to maintain, and which secured to every State a republican government, and protection against invasion.

It was probably towards the end of 477, or early in 478, that Zeno, then recently returned from exile after the usurpation of Basiliscus, received two embassies from two deposed Emperors of the West.