Challenging Word of the Week: abjure

(ab JOOHR) verb

To abjure something is to renounce it, retract, repudiate, forswear it. Abjure comes from the Latin verb abjurare (to deny under oath); abjuration from Late Latin abjuratio (recantation); both are based on ab- (away) plus jurare (to swear). Reformed sinners abjure the errors of their ways. A number of American communists abjured their allegiance to the Communist Party and informed on their former colleagues. The noun abjuration (abjoo RAY shuhn) implies renunciation upon oath, or at least some measure of solemnity and formality, something more than a mere change of mind. Born-again Christians abjure their former unbelief. The English poet John Donne (1572-1631) wrote:

The heavens rejoice in moiion, why should I
Abjure my so much loved variety

In Paradise Lost, the English poet John Milton (1608-1674) says:

I waked To find her, or for ever to deplore
Her loss, and other pleasures all abjure.

My example: The Minnesota Twins abjured the lousy baseball they played in April and June and came back to win the American League Central Division title on the last day of the season.

From the book, “1000 Most Challenging Words” by Norman W. Schur, ©1987 by the Ballantine Reference Library, Random House. I post a weekly “Challenging Words” definition to call more attention to this delightful book and to promote interesting word usage in the blogosphere. I challenge other bloggers to work the current word into a post sometime in the coming week. If you manage to do so, please leave a comment or a link to where I can find it. Previous words in this series can be found under the appropriate Category heading in the right-hand sidebar.

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