Ask Difference

Rescind vs. Revoke — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on November 5, 2023
Rescind means to cancel formally or officially, often with the intention to return to the status before, while revoke implies taking away something granted, like a right or privilege.
Rescind vs. Revoke — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Rescind and Revoke


Key Differences

Rescind is a term that implies an official or formal cancellation of a law, order, or agreement, often suggesting that things return to the way they were before the action was taken. Revoke, on the other hand, implies the withdrawal of something granted, such as a right, privilege, or license, and does not necessarily imply a return to a previous state.
Rescind is often used in a legislative or contractual context, where an agreement, law, or policy is nullified or annulled. Revoke is typically used in contexts involving permissions or licenses, indicating that the permission is canceled and the privileges associated with it are no longer in effect.
The word rescind is derived from the Latin word "rescindere," which means to cut off or abrogate. It implies a more formal or legalistic approach. The word revoke comes from the Latin word "revocare," meaning to call back or withdraw, and often has a slightly more general or broad application.
When a decision is rescinded, it is as if it never existed; it is voided retrospectively. When something is revoked, it may still have effects that extend beyond the revocation; the revocation stops future effects but does not necessarily negate past actions.
The usage of rescind often appears in the context of policy-making or business, where previous decisions or statements are formally withdrawn. In contrast, revoke is frequently used in legal and personal contexts, like revoking a will, a driver's license, or access rights, reflecting the removal of something that was previously conferred.

Comparison Chart


Formal cancellation or annulment.
Withdrawal of rights or privileges.

Retrospective Effect

Often nullifies past effects.
Typically does not nullify past effects.

Common Usage

Agreements, contracts, laws.
Licenses, permissions, wills.


Latin "rescindere" meaning to cut off.
Latin "revocare" meaning to call back.


Return to the status before.
Elimination of future effects.

Compare with Definitions


To formally cancel a law or contract.
The government decided to rescind the controversial law.


To rescind permissions or rights.
Access to the classified files was revoked.


To declare an agreement null and void.
The company rescinded its offer after the background check.


To officially cancel or withdraw.
His driver's license was revoked after the DUI charge.


To repeal a decision or policy.
The council voted to rescind the parking restrictions.


To take back or withdraw an offer or statement.
The invitation to speak at the event was revoked.


To take back a statement or promise.
The politician had to rescind his earlier statements due to public outcry.


In trick-taking card games, a revoke (or renege, or ) is a violation of the rules regarding the play of tricks serious enough to render the round invalid. A revoke is a violation ranked in seriousness somewhat below overt cheating, and is considered a minor offense when unintentional.


To revoke or annul an action.
She decided to rescind her resignation after negotiations.


To invalidate or cause to no longer be in effect, as by voiding or canceling
Her license was revoked.


To make void; repeal or annul.


To fail to follow suit in cards when required and able to do so.


(transitive) To repeal, annul, or declare void; to take (something such as a rule or contract) out of effect.
The agency will rescind the policy because many people are dissatisfied with it.


Failure to follow suit in a card game when required and able to do so.


(transitive) To cut away or off.


(transitive) To cancel or invalidate by withdrawing or reversing.
Your driver's license will be revoked.
I hereby revoke all former wills.


To cut off; to abrogate; to annul.
The blessed Jesus . . . did sacramentally rescind the impure relics of Adam and the contraction of evil customs.


(intransitive) To fail to follow suit in a game of cards when holding a card in that suit.


Specifically, to vacate or make void, as an act, by the enacting authority or by superior authority; to repeal; as, to rescind a law, a resolution, or a vote; to rescind a decree or a judgment.


(obsolete) To call or bring back.


Annul by recalling or rescinding;
He revoked the ban on smoking
Lift an embargo
Vacate a death sentence


(obsolete) To hold back.


(obsolete) To move (something) back or away.


(obsolete) To call back to mind.


The act of revoking in a game of cards.


A renege; a violation of important rules regarding the play of tricks in trick-taking card games serious enough to render the round invalid.


A violation ranked in seriousness somewhat below overt cheating, with the status of a more minor offense only because, when it happens, it is usually accidental.


To call or bring back; to recall.
The faint sprite he did revoke again,To her frail mansion of morality.


Hence, to annul, by recalling or taking back; to repeal; to rescind; to cancel; to reverse, as anything granted by a special act; as, , to revoke a will, a license, a grant, a permission, a law, or the like.


To hold back; to repress; to restrain.
[She] still strove their sudden rages to revoke.


To draw back; to withdraw.


To call back to mind; to recollect.
A man, by revoking and recollecting within himself former passages, will be still apt to inculcate these sad memoris to his conscience.


To fail to follow suit when holding a card of the suit led, in violation of the rule of the game; to renege.


The act of revoking.
She [Sarah Battle] never made a revoke.


The mistake of not following suit when able to do so


Fail to follow suit when able and required to do so


Annul by recalling or rescinding;
He revoked the ban on smoking
Lift an embargo
Vacate a death sentence


To annul or void by official means.
The judge revoked the previous ruling on the case.


To withdraw operation or effect.
The software's license was revoked due to non-compliance.

Common Curiosities

Is revoke more permanent than rescind?

Revocation is often permanent, but so can be rescission.

Can a contract be both rescinded and revoked?

Yes, parts of it can be rescinded, while certain privileges may be revoked.

Can revoke be used interchangeably with rescind?

They have different connotations and are not always interchangeable.

Can you rescind a revoked driver's license?

No, you cannot rescind something revoked; it would have to be reissued.

Does rescind require mutual agreement?

Not always, it can be a unilateral legal action in some contexts.

Are rescinded laws still enforceable?

Once rescinded, laws are typically not enforceable.

Do both rescind and revoke require official action?

Generally, both terms imply an official action is taken.

What does "rescind" mean?

To rescind means to officially cancel or repeal a law, order, or agreement.

Can "rescind" and "revoke" be used interchangeably?

They can be used interchangeably in some contexts, but "revoke" often implies a license or permission being withdrawn, while "rescind" is more commonly associated with contracts or laws.

What are common reasons for revoking privileges?

Common reasons include non-compliance with rules, abuse of privileges, or changes in eligibility status.

How is "revoke" different from "rescind"?

"Revoke" generally refers to the taking back of an offer, privilege, or power, whereas "rescind" is often used in the context of formally canceling or invalidating an agreement or contract.

What does it mean to "revoke" a driver's license?

To revoke a driver’s license means to officially cancel the license and remove the legal right to drive, usually due to infractions or legal violations.

What is a revoked credit card?

A revoked credit card is one that has been cancelled by the issuer, often due to missed payments or credit issues, and can no longer be used for transactions.

Is "rescind" used in legal contexts?

Yes, "rescind" is frequently used in legal contexts to refer to the cancellation of a contract or annulment of a legal act.

Can a job offer be rescinded?

Yes, a job offer can be rescinded, meaning the offer is withdrawn before the prospective employee has started working.

How does one legally rescind a contract?

Legally rescinding a contract typically requires mutual consent from all parties involved, or it can be unilaterally done if there are grounds such as fraud or mistake.

Is rescinding always permanent?

Rescinding is usually intended to be permanent, but the original decision-maker can sometimes reinstate the agreement or offer.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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