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1 : the act of abandoning property or a right: as
a : relinquishment by an inventor of the right to enforce a patent see also dedication
b : an author's relinquishment to the public domain of his or her copyrighted work
c : relinquishment of a trademark established by a failure to use the trademark and an intention never to resume use
d : the act of an insured in surrendering all rights to damaged or lost property to an insurer as a total loss compare salvage
e : relinquishment by a trustee in bankruptcy of interest in property in the bankruptcy estate often for a nominal sum
2 : the act of abandoning a person: as
a : failure to have contact with a spouse that is intended to create a permanent separation
b : failure to communicate with or provide financial support for one's child over a period of time that shows a purpose to forgo parental duties and rights
3 : the act of abandoning a contract
4 a : the act of abandoning a course of action (as a crime)
b : the affirmative defense (as recognized under the Model Penal Code) of voluntary withdrawal from the commission of a crime resulting from the actor's change of heart and not from intervening circumstances
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.