Relinquish, yield, leave, resign, surrender, cede, abandon, waive are comparable when they mean to let go from one’s control or possession or to give up completely.
Relinquish in itself seldom carries any added implication, but it often acquires color from the words with which it is associated or from the character of the thing given up.
Yield adds to relinquish the implication of concession or compliance; in some collocations it does not even suggest finality—a prevailing but not always necessary implication in the words of this group—but rather, a giving way as a favor, or as a sign of weakness, or as an indulgence.
Leave is often used in place of relinquish but distinctively it can imply a forsaking.
Like relinquish it can be strongly colored by context and may convey such dissimilar notions as a giving up or letting go that constitutes sacrifice or neglect or concession or even imposition upon others.
Resign emphasizes voluntary or deliberate sacrifice without struggle; it usually connotes either renunciation or acceptance of the inevitable.
Surrender distinctively implies the existence of external compulsion or demand; it commonly suggests submission after a struggle or after resistance or show of resistance.
At times the implication of resistance is blurred and that of conscious sacrifice, as for a greater advantage, is heightened.
Cede is narrower in its application than surrender; as a rule it suggests juridical pressure as expressed in a court decision, the findings of arbitrators, or the terms of a treaty, though it may suggest previous negotiation, and is used in reference to the transfer of lands, territory, or rights.
Abandon (see also ABANDON 1 ) stresses finality and completeness in relinquishment, especially of intangible things (as hopes, opinions, methods, or schemes).
Waive, like yield, need not imply finality and often suggests a concession, but unlike yield and the other terms of this group, it seldom implies the compulsion of force or necessity. Its main implication is a refusal to insist on something (as a right, a claim, one’s preference, one’s immunity, or obedience to a rule, law, or convention) usually for the sake of courtesy, simplicity, or concentration on what is relatively more important.