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Abjure vs. adjure

The verbs abjure and adjure both involve solemnity or earnestness, but their meanings are different. To abjure is to recant solemnly, renounce, repudiate, or forswear—for example:

Yasser Arafat, by contrast, had never permanently abjured violence. [The Guardian]

Of course, not all liberals abjure the Constitution. [American Spectator]

Adjure, which is often used in religious contexts,means to appeal or entreat solemnly—for example:


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A father-son duo … adjure us to wake up lest America after the cold war repeat the grave errors of Britain after World War I. [NY Times]

If you cannot now bring yourself to threaten veto, then I beg you to strongly adjure the legislature to deliberate long and hard about this abominable legislation. [Chicago Tribune]

In short, when you abjure something, you strongly oppose it. When you adjure someone, you strongly urge them to do something. The direct object of abjure is always the thing you oppose, and the direct object of adjure is always the person whom you urge to act.

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Comments

  1. Professor Dan says:

    ab- means to push away, while ad- means to pull towards. This is how I intent to remember the correct usage of these two words.

  2. From an early Church Epiphany ritual: “I adjure thee, O creature of salt, by the living God, by the true God, by the holy God . . . that thou become salt exorcised for the health of them that believe: be thou to all them that take of thee effectual for healing of soul and body, let all vain imaginations, wickedness, and subtlety of the wiles of the devil, let every unclean spirit flee and depart from the place where thou art to be sprinkled, being adjured by him who shall come to judge the quick and the dead, and the world by fire.

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