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I’m looking for a word that means sacrifice something. But I mean to use it in this sentence. I want to replace sacrifice with the word:

They packed up everything they had, gave up the option of ever seeing those loved ones staying behind, sacrificed their livelihoods to sail across a vast ocean to some unknown land they weren’t even sure existed.

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I am not really sure it would improve your sentence overall, but a word that can mean doing away with something desired or desirable is forgo (sometimes spelled "forego"). Another is renounce. Both are confirmed as possible synonyms of sacrifice by this thesaurus.

A caveat is that both words will only be appropriate for your sentence if what you mean is that "their livelihoods" are sacrificed (renounced, forgone) completely, and not just limited or diminished to some extent, which "sacrificed" could also mean.

All this said, I still find "sacrificed" the best-sounding word of the three, but since it's a subjective stylistic matter, I thought these suggestions might be useful anyway.

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  • I do me completely. Those work great! Thank you so much. I think renounce fits with what I was looking for. – pedentically_sematical Jan 15 '17 at 2:42
  • Well, “sacrificed" is good, but the feeling I am going for in the piece I am writing is different. It isn't about them being martyrs and noble by giving something up by the grand gesture to to this thing. Its about the selfishness side of it. You would have to read the whole thing to see, I guess. But trust me, your words fit better with the point I am making in the piece. It is an opinion piece, so I didn’t put the nature of it all up here. – pedentically_sematical Jan 15 '17 at 2:57
  • If you actually wouldn't mind giving this a negative connotation, since you say it's about selfishness, and you also are writing in a register that allows for some colloquial language, then ditch used in a (colloquially common) figurative sense may also do the trick, and have a starker effect on the reader; again, though, the connotation and register is certainly very different from all of "sacrifice", "renounce" and "forgo". – LjL Jan 15 '17 at 3:01
  • That does give a better effect. You got what I am trying to write. It is about leaving the reader with a jolt from the point of opinion (I use that, even though its not a real ‘thing’, instead of point of view. It just seems to fit better) I am writing. I didn’t just want to convey my point, I wanted the word to jolt, shock, if that makes any sense. My professor gave us an open assignment as long as, he said, it causes consternation among readers. – pedentically_sematical Jan 15 '17 at 4:05
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A word which is specifically used in such contexts is relinquish.

They packed up everything they had, gave up the option of ever seeing those loved ones staying behind, relinquished their livelihoods to sail across a vast ocean to some unknown land they weren’t even sure existed.

ODO:

relinquish VERB

[WITH OBJECT] Voluntarily cease to keep or claim; give up.

‘he relinquished his managerial role to become chief executive’
‘There is no evidence of her ever wishing to voluntarily relinquish the post.’

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