Abrogate a responsibility or abdicate a responsibility?

7055

Member
American English
Can you discern a difference in meaning between the two words in the following context?

‘This government has abrogated/abdicated its responsibility to safeguard the most vulnerable in society.’

‘Yet is it really fair to assume that parents have abrogated/abdicated their responsibilities?’
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    They are both longer/more formal ways of saying shirk your responsibilities. Of the two, I would think "abdicate" is more familiar to most people.
     
    'Abrogate' does not fit very well in either sentence in the OP.

    ‘This government has abrogated its responsibility to safeguard the most vulnerable in society.’:confused:

    ‘Yet is it really fair to assume that parents have abrogated their responsibilities?’:confused:
     
    Last edited:
    7055:Do you think that there may be perhaps subtle differences in meaning between the two words in these particular contexts?

    It is not subtle at all.

    Abrogate, in R-H Unabr:
    1. to abolish by formal or official means; annul by an authoritative act;
      repeal:to abrogate a law.
    2. to put aside;
      put an end to.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Both "abdicate" and "abrogate" imply some formal renouncement of something. Did the government formally renounce its responsibility? Probably not.
     

    7055

    Member
    American English
    It is not subtle at all.

    Abrogate, in R-H Unabr:
    1. to abolish by formal or official means; annul by an authoritative act;
      repeal:to abrogate a law.
    2. to put aside;
      put an end to.

    According to the Oxford Dictionary, secondary definition:

    abrogate
    • 2 Evade (a responsibility or duty)

      ‘we believe the board is abrogating its responsibilities to its shareholders’


    It also gives the example sentence

    ‘This government has abrogated its responsibility to safeguard the most vulnerable in society.’
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I recommend that you use something like "evade" or "shirk" rather than "abrogate" or "abdicate", which sound too formal and confusing to be adequate replacements for words with simpler, more straightforward definitions. Lovers of long words may disagree with me, but that's okay.
     

    7055

    Member
    American English
    Both "abdicate" and "abrogate" imply some formal renouncement of something. Did the government formally renounce its responsibility? Probably not.
    It does not seem to be the case that it must be a particularly formal renouncement for either of these words to be appropriate according to the dictionaries, oxford in particular. The examples sentences I have given are both out of Oxford dictionaries.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Abrogate
    OED definition 2.b: To evade, neglect, or renounce (an obligation or duty); to shirk (a responsibility).

    Abdicate
    OED definition 2: trans. (refl.). To cut oneself off or separate oneself from someone or something; to rid oneself of; esp. to divest oneself of an office, position, or responsibility. Frequently with from. Also (without construction): to cast off or put aside one's personality or identity.

     
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