What word means to make something obsolete?

For example, the automobile made the horse and buggy obsolete. How would the word obsolete be applied as a verb?


The automobile obsoleted the horse and buggy.


made obsolete

The automobile made obsolete the horse and buggy.

Not bad, but there's room for improvement.

EDIT: I'm looking for a verb that has an edge; that captures the upheaval and aggressiveness involved in displacing a product or industry. Killed is a bit strong.


The automobile killed the horse and buggy.

A bit overstated.

ran out of business

The automobile ran the horse and buggy out of business

marginally better, but still not good.


the automobile disrupted the horse and buggy

Better applied to an industry, like so

the automobile disrupted the transportation industry in the early 20th century; particularly the horse and buggy.



The automobile smashed the horse and buggy.

More along the lines of what I seek, but a bit improper.


The automobile XXX the horse and buggy.

What verb fits best here?

  • 4
    It looks like obsolesce can be either a transitive or intransitive verb, but seeing it in actual usage is rare. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obsolesce – RaceYouAnytime Apr 28 '19 at 16:40
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    You could just use replaced. Or superseded. – Peter Shor Apr 28 '19 at 16:41
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    'Obviate' typically applies when the object of the verb is actually the need for a given thing, but previous suggestions likely apply better based on your example. – Sean Boddy Apr 29 '19 at 5:30
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    I would change the word order from "The automobile made obsolete the horse and buggy." to "The automobile made the horse and buggy obsolete." – Ister Apr 29 '19 at 12:05
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    "Video Superseded the Radio Star" doesn't really have the same ring to it. – Spehro Pefhany May 1 '19 at 15:39

19 Answers 19


Interestingly, you automatically used a word in your question that you didn't even comment on—perhaps without realizing what you'd done: displace:

1 a : to remove from the usual or proper place
specifically : to expel or force to flee from home or homeland
// displaced persons
1 b : to remove from an office, status, or job
1 c obsolete : to drive out : BANISH
2 a : to move physically out of position
// a floating object displaces water
2 b : to take the place of (as in a chemical reaction) : SUPPLANT

So, in your example sentence:

The automobile displaced the horse and buggy.

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  • The implication with "displaced" is that it wasn't made (completely) obsolete, just moved sideways. Which is the case with horses and buggies: business and everyday use went away, recreational use did not. The flat panel display did not merely displace the vacuum tube colour television, it replaced it (or obsoleted it). – nigel222 May 1 '19 at 12:32
  • Yes, this has that bit of assertiveness that I was looking for. Somewhere between “bumped” and “superseded” – kmiklas May 15 '19 at 2:56

I don't know if this is exactly what you're looking for, but the verb supersede is close.

From Cambridge Dictionary:

supersede — to replace something older, less effective, or less important or official:
Wireless broadband could supersede satellite radio one day.

From Merriam-Webster

1a : to cause to be set aside
1b : to force out of use as inferior.

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  • 2
    "The automobile superseded the horse and buggy." – kmiklas Apr 28 '19 at 16:54
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    -1 The iPhone X supersedes the iPhone 8. But it did not make the iPhone 8 obsolete. What definition of obsolete do you think supersede applies to? (E.g., no longer in general use; fallen into disuse? of a discarded or outmoded type; out of date?) – Canis Lupus Apr 29 '19 at 16:54
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    @CanisLupus: Consider the first two definitions for supersede (1a and 1b) in Merriam-Webster. "To force out of use as inferior" is a definition very close what the OP is looking for. – Peter Shor Apr 29 '19 at 19:21
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    My mistake, Perter. I have upvoted! – Canis Lupus Apr 30 '19 at 0:37
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    The word retire can also be used in this way. – Max Apr 30 '19 at 2:14

to supplant TFD

  1. To take the place of; to replace

As in:

"The automobile supplanted the horse and buggy."

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  • @AledCymro because it wasn't the word he liked – WendyG May 1 '19 at 16:41


It's less commonly used as a verb than an adjective (my subjective opinion), but that's exactly what it means.




ob·​so·​lete | \ ˌäb-sə-ˈlēt  , ˈäb-sə-ˌlēt\

obsoleted; obsoleting

Definition of obsolete (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make (something) old-fashioned or no longer useful : make obsolete

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Deprecate is a term often used with technology: e.g. a deprecated feature or framework.

From Oxford Dictionaries:

1.1 be deprecated (chiefly of a software feature) be usable but regarded as obsolete and best avoided, typically because it has been superseded.
- ‘this feature is deprecated and will be removed in later versions’
- ‘avoid the deprecated element that causes text to flash on and off’

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  • 3
    These examples are passive uses, and the original example is looking for an active verb with the replacement as subject. A sentence like "The automobile deprecated the horse and buggy" may get the meaning across, but sounds rather strange to me. "The automobile caused the deprecation of the horse and buggy" seems better to me, but leaves the same issues "obsolete" had. – aschepler Apr 29 '19 at 12:38
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    Also "deprecate" usually means intentionally making something as obsolete so that people stop using it. (E.g., "this function is deprecated: please use function2 instead!") So it's a somewhat more specific word. – jick Apr 29 '19 at 18:22
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    This is just wrong. Why all the up-votes? To deprecate something means to tell people not to use it. The question is quite clear on the intended usage and this is not it. – David Richerby Apr 30 '19 at 21:08
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    @aschepler "The automobile deprecated the horse and buggy" is complete nonsense. It means "The automobile advised people not to use the horse and buggy." – David Richerby Apr 30 '19 at 21:09
  • @DavidRicherby I did have the feeling it was the wrong subject for the verb. – aschepler Apr 30 '19 at 22:06

Consider eclipse:

to cause an eclipse of: such as
b : to reduce in importance or repute

Surpass is relevant here. In essence, the automobile overshadows its earlier form. It's not that the horse and buggy is dead. It's that it has been effectively replaced as the dominant mode of travel.

The automobile eclipsed the horse and buggy.

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  • 1
    The automobile outshone the horse and buggy. :) – Lonely Apr 29 '19 at 15:51

I think "Replaced" can be used

Cambridge dictionary

to take the place of something or put in the place of something or someone else:
We replaced our old air conditioners.
The ailing actress was replaced by her understudy.

In your example it would be

The automobile replaced the horse and buggy.

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  • I think this is the simplest and most natural way to say it, particularly with the example given in the question. – DaveMongoose Apr 30 '19 at 13:11

From Merriam-Webster:

antiquate, verb

an·​ti·​quate | ˈan-tə-ˌkwāt

transitive verb : to make old or obsolete

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From the Oxford Living Dictionaries

  1. Remove (a need or difficulty) ‘the presence of roller blinds obviated the need for curtains’

    1.1 Avoid or prevent (something undesirable) ‘a parachute can be used to obviate disaster’

"The automobile obviated (removed the need for) the horse-and-buggy."

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  • 3
    I prefer this word because it makes me feel smart every time I use it, obviating the need for a fancy degree from an exclusive university. – emory Apr 30 '19 at 15:58


transitive verb
: to make obsolescent

From Merriam-Webster

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  • 4
    Obsolescent means "becoming obsolete", as in the process is still happening, which is slightly different from being obsolete already. A newer model of a phone or laptop may obsolesce older models the first day it's available (i.e. older models are now obsolescent), but doesn't immediately make them obsolete. It's still an applicable word, though, as there's not really a clear distinction between something that's becoming obsolete and something that is obsolete. – Nuclear Hoagie Apr 29 '19 at 18:41

Your most readily understood answer is going to be simply made obsolete. Here is why looking for something else can lead to problems:

Attempting to capture a precise meaning in a single word without context will often lead to ambiguities. While you provide context in one example, it doesn't necessarily apply in similarly worded examples.

To illustrate this, let's start with your context:

The automobile made the horse and buggy obsolete.

I'll show some counterexamples further on that would make you question the value of these choices. But using some of the most up-voted suggestions, you can ask yourself: are these statements necessarily going to mean the same?

The automobile superseded the horse and buggy.

The automobile supplanted the horse and buggy.

The automobile deprecated the horse and buggy.

The automobile displaced the horse and buggy.

The automobile eclipsed the horse and buggy.

For each of these words, there are multiple definitions. They are not all consistent with "make obsolete":

supersede: to succeed to the position, function, office, etc., of

supplant: to take the place or move into the position of

deprecate: to express disapproval of; deplore.

displace: to move from the usual or correct location

eclipse: to surpass; outshine

In choosing "the best words", you are still left with the job of ensuring that what the listener hears is the same as what you say.

If you changed the context, do these highlighted words mean "made obsolete"?

Here are the counterexamples:

In the national park, federal law supersedes state law.

This year, imported cars are expected to supplant domestically produced vehicles.

The scientists were mocked in a move to deprecate the oil industry.

The war displaced millions of people.

When Ryun eclipsed the four minute mile, it became a realistic goal for many to strive for.

It should be obvious that none of these statements conveys the notion of made obsolete.

Words with multiple meanings have their place, and they only convey their intended meaning with the right context. None of the examples above about the automobile will necessarily be understood to mean "made obsolete" except to the person who already knows that simple fact.

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  • "obsoleted" is a word, and I think is unambiguous. But good examples and points about other proposed synonyms. – Peter Cordes Apr 30 '19 at 18:46
  • Words have more than one sense, which is why we want people who ask single-word-requests to give an example sentence. None of those words can replace make obsolete in the sentence the automobile made the blacksmith obsolete, but that's beside the point; we're looking for a word that works in the OP's (and similar) examples. I'm not really happy with any of the suggestions, either, but your answer does a terrible job of explaining why they're all no good. – Peter Shor May 1 '19 at 13:26

What word means to make something obsolete?

I would use the verb 'outdate'. Although the adjective 'outdated' is more famous than the verb counterpart, the verb is in use on both sides of the pond.

According to this Oxford Dictionary:

Make out of date or obsolete.

‘new technology is outdating current privacy laws’

According to Webster-Merriam:

: to make out of date : make obsolete

the development of new machinery has outdated many plants

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Make redundant, perhaps.

Redundant - superfluous, excessive; surplus; unnecessary (OED).

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As in: "Pagers are every rarely used these days".

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  • Hi 'The BFG', welcome to EL&U. This isn't a bad start, but it's too short: the system has flagged it as "low-quality because of its length and content." An answer on EL&U is expected to be authoritative, detailed, and explain why it is correct. It's best if you edit your answer to provide more information - e.g., add a published definition of outmoded (linked to the source) and say why it suits the context. For further guidance, see How to Answer and take the EL&U Tour. :-) – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica May 1 '19 at 5:55


The automobile overrode the horse and buggy.

Quite literally and figuratively (but it's less vivid than smashed, I think).

override (past tense: overrode; Collins English Dictionary):

  1. to set aside or disregard with superior authority or power

  2. to supersede or annul

  3. to dominate or vanquish by or as if by trampling down

Origin of override (Online Etymology Dictionary)

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I would stay with your root, expanded to 'obsolescence', and use other verbs to set it up such as:

The automobile 'ushered in', or 'drove', or 'bulldozed in', or 'steamrolled in', or 'forced', or 'engineered' the obsolescence of the horse and buggy.

Since we're talking automobiles, I like 'drove'. :)

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  • 2
    It would improve things if you included a couple of sample sentences to show what you mean. – KillingTime Apr 29 '19 at 16:08


For an edgy substitute, where "killed" is too strong, you might consider something along the lines of extinguished.

Extinguish means to put an end to or bring to an end; wipe out of existence; annihilate. It is derived from the same Latin as the word extinct, and in your example with the horse and buggy, the automobile is the thing that brought (or drove, if you are pun-friendly) the horse and buggy to near extinction.

So the phrase

The automobile extinguished the horse and buggy business.

is strong and empathic about the effect the auto had on the horse and buggy.

(Note: consistent with Stack Exchange guidelines, I wish to keep this answer separate from my previous answer, as it is entirely distinct from that answer, and should stand on its own.)

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The automobile renders the horse and buggy obsolete is a clear and complete sentence. Why does one need to make a verb out of an adjective?

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  • It's called verbing a whatever. english.stackexchange.com/questions/15473/… – Cascabel Apr 30 '19 at 21:53
  • I love verbing words :^) Seriously, the statment The automobile XXX the horse and buggy is more concise and direct: The automobile displaced the horse and buggy. – kmiklas May 1 '19 at 14:41

supplanted, succeeded, undermined, unseated, usurped, ejected, ousted

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  • Please explain how each of these suggestions is useful. – Andrew Leach Apr 30 '19 at 10:47
  • On EL&U we're looking for answers that are authoritative, detailed, and explain why they're correct; how is a list of seven synonyms (some of which have already been proposed by others), with no explanation, any better than a bare link to a thesaurus entry? – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica May 1 '19 at 6:00

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