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Abjure vs Renounce vs Forswear vs Recant vs Retract

Abjure, renounce, forswear, recant and retract all mean to withdraw one’s word or professed belief.

What’s the difference?

Abjure implies a firm and final rejecting or abandoning under oath.

  • He abjured the Protestant faith and became King in 1594.

Renounce often equals abjure but may carry the meaning of disclaim or disown.

  • After a period of imprisonment she renounced terrorism.

Forswear may add to abjure an implication of perjury or betrayal.

  • The party was offered a share of government if it forswore violence.

Recant stresses the withdrawing or denying of something professed or taught.

  • White House officials ordered Williams to recant.

Retract applies to the withdrawing of a promise, an offer, or an accusation.

  • Mr Smith hurriedly sought to retract the statement, but it had just been broadcast on national radio.