Intermediate word of the day: resignation

When someone resigns from a job, they publicly say they are going to stop doing it. The noun is resignation.  With most jobs in normal everyday life, people don’t actually use the word resign that much; instead, they decide to quit or leave their job. They might have to hand in a resignation letter to formally say they are leaving, but more commonly they’d say ‘I’ve handed in my notice’. That’s because in most jobs you have to give (at least) two weeks’ notice to your company (= you have to tell them your plan at least two weeks before you leave) so that they have time to find a replacement.

Resigning and resignations are more usually associated with important ‘public’ jobs: people who are in charge of something, like the director of a company or a government minister or a football manager. Most of the time, it’s not something the person wanted to do, so we might say she was forced to resign over the issue. This may be after the press or the public or company shareholders have called for her resignation or even demanded her resignation. The director may initially refuse to resign, but then the pressure builds and eventually they have to agree to step down and announce their resignation. Unlike with most jobs, resignations can happen with immediate effect.

In some cases, the calls for someone’s resignation are the result of a failure: the person has been useless at their job. For example, maybe sales fell sharply and a company lost market share or the policy that the minister was responsible for didn’t work and it wasted millions of pounds. In other cases, resignation may because a  manager or minister was involved in a scandal, such as allegations of sexual harassment or corruption, or perhaps they committed a serious error or engaged in other inappropriate behaviour (e.g. being drunk on official business) which caused embarrassment or caused damage to the reputation of the company. In a few cases, people resign voluntarily, perhaps because they have had enough and want to spend more time with their family or just need a change. Sometimes they may resign in protest because they disagree with a government policy. It might be described as a sudden resignation, which came as a shock. These cases can cause problems because the resignation leaves a big gap to fill and it may be difficult to find an adequate replacement.

Cover the text. What do you remember?

  • Who might call for someone’s resignation?
  • Say three other verbs that go with resignation.
  • What do most people say / do instead of ‘resign’?
  • Say two things that might show a company director is useless at their job?
  • What might inappropriate behaviour cause to a company?
  • What happens after the resignation?
  • What adjectives go with resignation, replacement, gap, error, and effect?

Related stories in the news

The newspapers are always full of stories about resignations. In recent weeks, there has been the sudden resignation of the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, which he announced in Riyadh. Some suggest he was forced to resign by the Saudi Arabian government who support his party and that he will be replaced by someone more in favour of Saudi Arabia. The situation is very complicated!

The director of the emergency operation in Puerto Rico resigned because of the failure to restore order after the hurricane. Apparently, he started facing calls for his resignation after he took a two week-holiday not long after the disaster.

In the UK there two ministers have resigned recently. The first was Michael Fallon, who resigned over allegations of sexual harassment, which has become a big issue in the UK parliament. Apparently, he had a history of touching women inappropriately (called ‘groping’) and of saying inappropriate things.  The other minister was Priti Patel, who was forced to resign because she’d had a series meetings with Israeli officials – including the prime minister – without informing the UK foreign office or government. She then initially lied about it.

There is also pressure building on the foreign secretary to resign, because of various inappropriate things he’s said which have caused embarrassment to the government. The latest has been a failure to properly support a British woman who is in prison in Iran.


  • Have there been any resignations in your country recently? What over?
  • Is there anyone who you think should resign? Why?
  • Have there been any calls for their resignation? Who by? Why hasn’t it happened yet?

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