Usurp (verb)

Photo by Amber Maxwell Boydell via unsplash

Definition

1a.   to seize and hold (office, place, functions, powers, etc.) in possession by force or without right

b.     to take or make use of without right

2.     to take the place of by or as if by force: supplant

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the Day, 13 October 2020)

Use it in a sentence

He flinched as she punched the dough with one quick strike. His wife then started folding and refolding it, working the dough with her whole body leaning into it.

‘The thing is,’ he said, scratching the top of his head, ‘I think she’s worried you’ll usurp her in the kitchen – that her apple turnovers won’t cut it anymore, when compared to your burnt caramel and vanilla spiced tarts with fresh raspberries.’

‘Tosh! Your mother is renowned for her baking – your nieces go crazy for those turnovers. I’m merely trying to keep up.’

She kneaded with more energy, puffing a wisp of hair from her eyes.

‘Well, maybe you could keep up, but with a little less… flare?’

She stopped for a moment and stared at him blankly. ‘Are you saying I shouldn’t bring my homemade porcini, rocket and truffle oil pizza to the BBQ today?’

‘No, love, absolutely not what I’m saying.’

‘Because your dad loves my pizza. He practically drools over it.’

He tilted his head to one side, screwed his mouth sideways and sighed. ‘Yeah. That might be part of the problem too.’

She folded her floury hands across her chest and frowned. ‘Honey, are you trying to tell me your mum is jealous of me? Of my cooking prowess? I mean, if that’s what you’re saying, it’s crazy. I’m not competing with your mother!’

‘Of course not, no. I know that. I think her pride is just a bit wounded, you know. She’s always been the best baker in the family. Her vanilla slices are legendary! And no one ever bothered making desserts or bringing homemade pizza or olive bread or whatever. I think she’s just a bit flustered. And yeah, I think she feels a bit threatened.’

‘I see.’ She pursed her lips thoughtfully. ‘Well, I’m sorry she feels that way. I’m not trying to show her up.’

‘I know, I know.’ He kissed his wife on the cheek and gave her a quick squeeze. ‘Thanks for understanding.’

‘Of course. Shall I still bring the pizza?’

He hesitated a moment. ‘Sure.’ Then, he gave her a playful pat on the bottom as he headed out to the back yard to trim the hedges. She raised her eyebrows at him and smiled.

When he was gone, she started rolling out the dough. She decided to add some chopped rosemary to the base. It was going to be the best damn pizza that family ever tasted.

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