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Yield vs Submit vs Capitulate vs Succumb vs Relent vs Defer vs Bow vs Cave

Yieldsubmitcapitulatesuccumbrelentdeferbowcave can all mean to give way to someone or something that one cannot further resist.

Yield (see also RELINQUISH ) ( BEAR 2 ), when the reference is to a person implies being overcome (as by force, argument, or entreaty), but when the reference is to a thing, the word implies elasticity, or lack of firmness, strength, or endurance in the thing that gives way.

Submit carries a more definite implication of contention or conflict than yield and, therefore, suggests more strongly a surrender after resistance to another’s will, or because of a thing’s strength or inevitableness.

Capitulate can mean to surrender on terms definitely agreed upon, but in its common extended use, it more often centers attention on a definite submission to a force or power that one has not the strength, the skill, or the will to overcome.

Succumb carries a stronger implication than any of the preceding terms of weakness or helplessness in the person or thing that gives way or of strength or irresistibility in the person or more often the thing that causes the giving way. The suggestion of sinking under that force or power is usually so strong in succumb that the word frequently implies a disastrous outcome (as death, destruction, or subjugation).

All of the preceding terms usually imply a giving way on the part of a person or sometimes a thing that has not or cannot maintain the upper hand; they therefore often imply a weakening of the one that gives way.

Relent , by contrast, implies a yielding on the part of the one who has the upper hand and who has been severe or harsh in his attitude to another person or fixed in his determination (as to punish, to interfere, or to frustrate). The term therefore implies a softening or mollifying that turns him from his previous course.

Defer implies a yielding or submitting to because of respect or reverence for another or in recognition of another’s authority or superior knowledge.

Bow is a picturesque equivalent of defer or submit ; it may suggest a yielding through courtesy or through subjugation.

Cave , usually with in , can be a close synonym of succumb , but it often suggests resistance to pressure to the point of exhaustion and sudden collapse.