Why do you resign a game of chess, but surrender a war?

  • Why? Because that's how English expresses those actions. There is no secret formula that will help you figure out when to use resign, surrender, capitulate, give up, give over, give in, acquiesce, yield, or any of the others.
    – Robusto
    Mar 20, 2019 at 14:36
  • So they mean the exact same thing? I thought there might be a subtle difference.
    – TTTTM
    Mar 20, 2019 at 14:37
  • The meaning is the same. The context is the only thing that's different. To resign a game of chess is a form of surrender, one specifically associated with that game.
    – Robusto
    Mar 20, 2019 at 14:38

1 Answer 1


To give up a job or position by telling your employer that you are leaving. In a game of chess, you resign when you cannot see any way to avoid being beaten. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/resign

To stop fighting and admit defeat If you surrender to an experience or emotion, you stop trying to prevent or control it. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/surrender

If the meaning is the same thing then "The enemy army resigned" would make as much sense as "The enemy army surrendered"

Surrendering in a war indicates that the victor has control over those who surrender. The examples given in the dictionary for "resign" are mostly job related. The general idea is that the giving over of control is not as complete as when using "surrender".

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