Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    The act of a sovereign in renouncing and relinquishing his government or throne, so that either the throne is left entirely vacant or is filled by a successor appointed or elected beforehand. Also, where a magistrate or person in office voluntarily renounces or gives it up before the time of service has expired. It differs from resignation, in that resignation is made by one who has received his office from another and restores it into his hands, as an inferior into the hands of a superior; abdication is the relinquishment of an office which has devolved by act of law. It is said to be a renunciation, quitting, and relinquishing, so as to have nothing further to do with a thing or the doing of such actions as are inconsistent with the holding of it. Chambers.

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