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(1) In law, the forced alienation of property, with or without compensation, by the government. Both real property (for example, land used for railroads or unpaved roads) and movable property (such as precious metals) may be expropriated. Depending on whether or not compensation is paid, expropriation may take the form of requisition or confiscation.
(2) The removal by one social class of another class’s property and social status. Within a class, the term “expropriation” is applied to the removal by one stratum of another stratum’s property and status—for example, a legislative act secularizing church lands. Immediately after the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917, the Soviet government expropriated substantial portions of the property of the former exploiting classes.