I'm looking for a word that describes the process by which a leader is chosen. I would use "election", but that word contains too much information about the details of the process. I need something that doesn't refer to any particular way of going about the selection process - a general term that encompasses election, appointment, coup d'etat, etc.

Ideally, I'd like something that has both noun and verb forms. A technical, niche, or uncommon word would be okay, but an excessively long word would not be very useful.

One of my intended use cases has the verb form appearing on its own in command form, as a single-word sentence. Another case I have in mind is to use the noun form in a sentence such as, "When members of government realize the old leader is incapable of leading, they begin {the selection process}."

  • Must it be how they are chosen? Or could it be something like inauguration?
    – Jim
    Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 19:37
  • Competition comes to mind. A coup d'état doesn't select its leaders, last I looked. (ahem), The leader imposes himself on (the) people.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 20:39
  • 1
    I'm not entirely sure what's wrong with "select" and "selection"...
    – psosuna
    Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 21:28
  • @Jim yes, it has to be about how they are chosen, not how they are installed into power.
    – Lucas Paul
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 18:52
  • @psosuna "select" and "selection" are decent enough I suppose. They're excellent in terms of how general they are and how they can be used in a larger context. I need to pack a lot of meaning into a small space, though, and something that specifically communicates that we are dealing with leadership or authority would be much better for my purposes.
    – Lucas Paul
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 18:53

3 Answers 3


Succession is one such noun which denotes the process by which a new leader is selected, irrespective of the mode of selection. The verb form is succeed. Refer to the ODO examples below to see different modes of succession.



2 [mass noun] The action or process of inheriting a title, office, property, etc.

‘the new king was already elderly at the time of his succession’

‘I think he was confusing the constitutional succession in office with who was in charge.’


2.1 no object Become the new rightful holder of an office, title, or property.

‘he succeeded to his father's kingdom’

‘He killed the person Yu the Great had appointed and succeeded to his father's power, beginning the hereditary system of monarchy.’

‘The reality is for more than 40 years no Democrat has succeeded to the White House who hasn't been from the South.’

‘He then formally succeeded to Patterson's post, although there had been speculation that a person outside the NSC would be assigned to the position.’

  • I like this answer, and it has a pretty convincing case. The unfortunate part is that in order to use the verb, you sort of have to know how the process turns out because the new leader is the one who succeeds. You can say a nation began a succession, or is in the process of succession, but saying it is succeeding or commanding someone to succeed doesn't communicate what I'd like. It's a good answer, and I'll probably accept it if no better suggestion comes along, but I'm hoping to see some other possibilities.
    – Lucas Paul
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 18:45

A noun and verb pair came to mind that might work with this: Inaugurate, Inauguration.

From Oxford Dictionaries:

mass noun

  1. The beginning or introduction of a system, policy, or period.
    the inauguration of an independent prosecution service

    1.1 The formal admission of someone to office.
    the President's inauguration

    1.2 count noun A ceremony to mark the beginning or introduction of something.
    the inauguration of the Modern Art Museum

See 1.1: The formal admission of someone to office. This may also work in cases where the "admission" is imposed, though technically informal, due to the meaning in 1: The beginning or introduction of a system, policy, or period.


A generic phrase, that is quite common in both America and the UK, is the transition of power. It's so common that Slate remarked

For the Love of God, Enough Already About the Peaceful Transition of %^*$ing Power

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