Skip to main content

Revoke vs Reverse vs Repeal vs Rescind vs Recall

Revoke, reverserepealrescindrecall are close synonyms when they mean to abrogate by undoing something previously done, especially in legal context.

Revoke implies a calling back, annulling, abrogating; thus, a testator may revoke his will and make a new one; a benefactor may revoke a gift to an institution; a license board may revoke a license.

Reverse (see also REVERSE ) usually implies the action of a higher court in overthrowing a law, a decree, or a decision previously made; it commonly suggests that the earlier law, decree, or decision has been disputed and that the case is now settled by this annulment, unless there is still a higher court to which an appeal may be carried. Reverse is, however, still occasionally used in the broader sense of revoke, with an implication of upsetting, when it applies to actions, decisions, or judgments of a personal or official but not judicial nature.

Repeal applies to a law or statute which is revoked by authority, usually by the authority of the body that made it, but sometimes by the executive power or by the vote of the suffrage.

Rescind implies the exercise of the proper authority in abolishing or making void. It may suggest exercise of legal, judicial, or legislative authority, or it may suggest the exercise of the summary authority of a sovereign, dictator, master, or parent.

In legal use rescind as applied to a contract means that it is voided and is as though it never had been.

Recall (see also REMEMBER ) is not a technical term though used sometimes of legal or judicial acts. It is capable of wider use than any of the other of these terms and can on occasion replace any of the others.