Expropriating some definitions

I was editing a story about the endless Israeli-Palestinian conflict a few weeks ago and came across this sentence:

  • Mark Regev, a spokesman for Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said that since the 10-month building moratorium ended in September, the government had been sticking to building only in existing settlements and had not expropriated more land for settlements.

I wondered how expropriate is different from the verb appropriate. There doesn't seem to be a huge one.

The American Heritage Dictionary on expropriate:

  • 1. To deprive of possession: expropriated the property owners who lived in the path of the new highway.
  • 2. To transfer (another's property) to oneself.

And on appropriate:

  • 1. To set apart for a specific use: appropriating funds for education.
  • 2. To take possession of or make use of exclusively for oneself, often without permission: Lee appropriated my unread newspaper and never returned it.

The OED has a note on expropriate: "Now chiefly to deprive of property either wholly or in part, for the public use, usually with provision of compensation." So if there is a distinction to be made, it seems that perhaps expropriate is a seizure with some sort of legal or official backing to it, while appropriating is when someone just grabs something from someone else.

They have the same root in Latin:

  • expropriate: From the medieval Latin expropriāre, expropriāt- : from teh Latin ex- + propriāre, meaning to appropriate, from proprium, meaning property, neuter of proprius, meaning own.
  • appropriate: From the middle English appropriat, from the late Latin appropriātus, past participle of appropriāre, meaning to make one's own : Latin ad- + proprius, meaning own