To repeal something — usually a law, ordinance or public policy — is to take it back. For example, dog lovers might want the town council to repeal the law that says residents can have no more than four dogs.

The verb repeal comes from the Anglo-French word repeler, “to call back.” Repeal is almost always used in the context of law: When a government decides to get rid of an ordinance or law, that ordinance or law is repealed. That means it is no longer in effect, like if the weather becomes unseasonably hot, the schools might repeal the part of the dress code to permit students to wear shorts.

Definitions of repeal

v cancel officially

annul, countermand, lift, overturn, rescind, reverse, revoke, vacate
go back on, renege, renege on, renegue on
fail to fulfill a promise or obligation
Type of:
cancel, strike down
declare null and void; make ineffective

n the act of abrogating; an official or legal cancellation

abrogation, annulment
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(law) the partial taking away of the effectiveness of a law; a partial repeal or abolition of a law
the act of making something legally void
the act of removing an official by petition
the act (by someone having the authority) of annulling something previously done
Type of:
the act of cancelling; calling off some arrangement

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