Denounce vs Renounce – Explain The Difference

“Denounce” refers to a public announcement or criticism, such as condemning a company’s product or declaring someone’s actions wrong. In contrast, “renounce” involves a personal commitment to stop an action, like giving up smoking or relinquishing ownership of something.

In this article we’ll provide examples of using both verbs, highlighting their different contexts & use cases. Additionally, it lists formal and informal synonyms for each word, offering alternatives for varied expression.

Also, we’ll further explain the specific use of “renounce” and “denounce” in legal contexts and their common root “-nounce.”

What’s The Difference: Denounce vs Renounce

picture comparing the terms denounce and renounce

At first glance, the words denounce and renounce look identical, just like the words either and ither. In fact, they have the same root “-nounce” which means to announce or to shout. This means writers frequently confuse these words, just like they confuse roll call or role call. However, these words have different meanings.

  • Denounce – Denounce is an announcement, especially a public one. For example, a person might make a statement to denounce a company’s new product as a total failure. denouncing is more of a public proclamation that one can condemn openly for everyone to see.
  • Renounce – Renounce means to commit to stopping an action. For example, a person may renounce smoking cigarettes or doing drugs. This means they will no longer engage in drug use or smoke cigarettes.

Takeaway: Renounce is usually more internally focused. The word denounce refers to something you announce formally.

How To Use Renounce

The word renounce is a verb that can be used in two main ways. Verbs are one of the most important parts of speech in a sentence. They are action words!

Give Something Up – It can be used to relinquish ownership of something. This is normally used in a formal manner.

  • For example, the son of a billionaire might renounce his inheritance & dedicate his life to philanthropy.

Stop Engaging – It can also mean that a person will no longer participate in something. This includes abstract ideas.

  • For example, a person may renounce a religion that they participated in for most of their life.

Just like we saw in our post on the difference between flys or flies, even small spelling changes make a big difference!

What Are Synonyms For Renounce?

Here are the formal synonyms for renounce.

Formal SynonymExplanation
AbjureFormally reject a belief or practice
ForsakeTo abandon or give up something
RelinquishTo voluntarily give up or surrender
RepudiateTo refuse association with
AbdicateTo give up a right or responsibility

Here are the informal synonyms for renounce.

Informal SynonymExplanation
DitchTo get rid of or abandon
DropTo stop supporting or doing
DumpTo get rid of
KickTo stop a habit or practice
Wash hands ofTo end involvement with

How To Use Denounce

Just like renounce, the word denounce is a verb that can be used in a few different ways. This reminds me of the rarer or more rare grammar rules!

To Criticize Openly – To denounce (denouncement) can mean to openly criticize or attack something.

  • For example, the company CEO denounced the poor behavior of his staff during his speech.

To Be an Informant Against – When you denounce someone, you publicly accuse them of something. Usually, it’s something bad – like a crime or wrongdoing. But it can also be something less serious, like betraying your trust.

  • For example, the NBA denounced his teammate to the league for cheating.

To End A Treaty – Denounce means to make a public announcement to communicate the ending of a treaty.

  • For example, Adolf Hitler made a speech that denounced the Treaty of Versailles. Germany would no longer honor this treaty.

What Are Synonyms For Denounce?

Here are the formal synonyms for denounce.

Formal SynonymExplanation
CondemnTo express strong disapproval of
CriticizeTo express disapproval or find fault with
CensureTo formally reprimand or criticize harshly
DeploreTo express strong disapproval of
CastigateTo criticize severely for a wrongdoing

Here are the informal synonyms for denounce.

Informal SynonymExplanation
SlamTo criticize harshly
BashTo criticize in a harsh way
TrashTo criticize severely
Bad-mouthTo speak negatively about
Rip intoTo criticize fiercely

Denounce Sentence Examples

  1. “I denounce you, ice cream cone, for being too delicious!” cried the angry townspeople.
  2. “I hereby denounce this pair of socks as being too scratchy!” said the disgruntled customer.
  3. “I denounce Spotify for making me like Taylor Swift!” cried the hipster.

Just like we saw in our analysis of the words programming vs programing, even small spelling changes can completely modify a sentence!

Renounce Sentence Examples

  1. I renounce my membership in the bratty kids club.
  2. I renounce my sins and pledge to lead a life of virtue from now on.
  3. I hereby renounce my title as king of the universe. Long live the new ruler!

Renounce or Relinquish

The words renounce and relinquish are most commonly used in terms of US citizenship. They are nearly identical words with slightly different meanings. Both words result in the loss of citizenship.

However, when someone renounces their US citizenship officially, they immediately lose their citizenship. This happens immediately. However, if someone fills out their 8854 form to relinquish their citizenship they have to wait for it to be reviewed and approved.

Words With Root -nounce

Here are a few other words that share the same root -nounce.

  • Announce
  • Pronounce


Is denounce a synonym for renounce?

No, they are different words with very similar meanings. The main difference is that denouncing is usually a formal public announcement. Renouncement is usually an internal commitment to stop something.

Can you denounce someone?

Yes, you can denounce someone. To denounce someone is to publicly accuse them of wrongdoing or fault. It’s often used as a way to condemn someone, or to express outrage or disapproval.

What does denounce mean in law?

In law, denounce means to declare something a crime and to prescribe a punishment for it. For example, in the United States, denouncing an act of terrorism is a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment.

Is denounce a noun verb or adjective?

Denounce is a verb meaning “to condemn or criticize publicly.” For example, you might denounce someone’s actions as being unethical or immoral.

The Bottom Line

Now you know the difference between renounce and denounce. Denounce is more of a public statement. Whereas renounce is more of an internal commitment. Remember this grammar rule will make you a better writer for years to come. Be sure to use our best grammar checker free tool if you struggle with these two words!