To begin, I have already checked several dictionaries for definitions, such as the one below, from Oxford Living Dictionaries.

secede verb [no object] Withdraw formally from membership of a federal union, an alliance, or a political or religious organization.

'the kingdom of Belgium seceded from the Netherlands in 1830'

‘The only way to prevent this would be to secede from the Union.’

‘If Vermont or Southern California were to secede, a lot of us would join them.’

‘Conversely, a claim of a right to secede from a repressive dictatorship may be regarded as legitimate.’

I found this line in an article today, and wonder whether I am simply missing the intended meaning of the usage. The sentence is from is Trump applauded North Korea's leader after floating the possibility of a 'major, major' conflict in the region, an article on the Business Insider website.

"As the youngest son of Kim Jong Il — the previous leader who died from a heart attack in 2011 — Jong Un seceded his father's place after being heralded as "a great person born of heaven," according to North Korea's state-run media."

Can someone explain whether or not the word 'seceded' is used correctly here? If it is used correctly, an explanation would be very much appreciated.

  • 7
    The word for what Kim Jong Un did is succeed to, not secede. Apr 29, 2017 at 17:34
  • Ah, it hadn't occurred to me that they might have switched two similar sounding words. Thank you!!
    – badpanda
    Apr 29, 2017 at 18:10
  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is predicated on a misspelling. Apr 29, 2017 at 22:04
  • 1
    The question can be closed as off topic since the OP has already understood the error made in the news report. I also consider it a good choice for migration to ELL as an example of 'similar words with very different meanings' for new learners of English. Apr 30, 2017 at 16:35
  • As further evidence that Business Insider doesn't employ copy editors, I note that the absence of a comma after "previous leader" changes the meaning of that parenthetical, and that Jong Un did not "succeed his father's place"—he "succeeded his father." Furthermore, Jong Un didn't succeed "as the youngest son," which implies that North Korea's ruling family has a tradition that the youngest son becomes leader upon his father's death; rather Jong Un took control despite being Jong Il's youngest son. The seceded/succeeded error isn't out of place with these other infelicities.
    – Sven Yargs
    Apr 30, 2017 at 17:19

1 Answer 1


Common sense would suggest an error in using 'secede'; succeeded his father is the most likely phrase, as in "the prince succeeded the king after his demise. "

  • Obvious misspellings do not provide suitable questions for a site aimed at linguists. Answering questions containing them adds an undesirable cachet. Apr 29, 2017 at 22:06
  • Obvious misspellings do not provide suitable questions for a site aimed at linguists. Answering questions containing them adds an undesirable cachet. – Edwin Ashworth 17 hours ago -- Therefore such questions are best migrated to ELL where they can be useful examples for new learners, in my humble opinion. Please read my meta question on this topic and provide your valuable comments. english.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/10215/… Apr 30, 2017 at 16:09
  • @Edwin Ashworth - I'd just like to point out that this is most likely a misuse of the word, not a misspelling. I find it hard to believe that someone would spell 'succeed' 'secede.'
    – badpanda
    May 1, 2017 at 19:20
  • @badpanda If electronic transcription has been involved, one could argue either way. Whatever; the question is predicated on obvious infelicity of one kind or another. May 1, 2017 at 20:04

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