Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary
1

sanction

play
noun sanc·tion \ˈsaŋ(k)-shən\

Simple Definition of sanction

  • : an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country, etc.

  • : official permission or approval

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of sanction

  1. 1 :  a formal decree; especially :  an ecclesiastical decree

  2. 2a obsolete :  a solemn agreement :  oathb :  something that makes an oath binding

  3. 3 :  the detriment, loss of reward, or coercive intervention annexed to a violation of a law as a means of enforcing the law

  4. 4a :  a consideration, principle, or influence (as of conscience) that impels to moral action or determines moral judgmentb :  a mechanism of social control for enforcing a society's standardsc :  explicit or official approval, permission, or ratification :  approbation

  5. 5 :  an economic or military coercive measure adopted usually by several nations in concert for forcing a nation violating international law to desist or yield to adjudication

Examples of sanction in a sentence

  1. The country acted without the sanction of the other nations.

  2. Their policy has legal sanction.



Origin of sanction

Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin sanction-, sanctio, from sancire to make holy — more at sacred


First Known Use: 15th century


2

sanction

transitive verb, sanc·tion

Simple Definition of sanction

  • : to officially accept or allow (something)

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of sanction

sanctionedsanctioning play \-sh(ə-)niŋ\

  1. 1 :  to make valid or binding usually by a formal procedure (as ratification)

  2. 2 :  to give effective or authoritative approval or consent to

sanctionable play \-sh(ə-)nə-bəl\ adjective

Examples of sanction in a sentence

  1. The government has sanctioned the use of force.

  2. His actions were not sanctioned by his superiors.



Did You Know?

Sanction can also be a noun meaning "authoritative approval" or "a coercive measure." The noun entered English first, in the 15th century, and originally referred to a formal decree, especially an ecclesiastical decree. (The Latin sancire, meaning "to make holy," is an ancestor.) By the end of the 17th century, the meaning of the noun "sanction" had extended to refer to both a means of enforcing a law (a sense that in the 20th century we began using especially for economic penalties against nations violating international law) and the process of formally approving or ratifying a law. When the verb "sanction" appeared in the 18th century, it had to do with ratifying laws as well. Soon it had also acquired an additional, looser sense: "to approve."

1778

First Known Use of sanction

1778

Synonym Discussion of sanction

approve, endorse, sanction, accredit, certify mean to have or express a favorable opinion of. approve often implies no more than this but may suggest considerable esteem or admiration <the parents approve of the marriage>. endorse suggests an explicit statement of support <publicly endorsed her for Senator>. sanction implies both approval and authorization <the President sanctioned covert operations>. accredit and certify usually imply official endorsement attesting to conformity to set standards <the board voted to accredit the college> <must be certified to teach>.

SANCTION Defined for Kids

1

sanction

play
noun sanc·tion \ˈsaŋk-shən\

Definition of sanction for Students

  1. 1 :  official approval or permission <The soldiers' conduct did not have the king's sanction.>

  2. 2 :  an action (as the ending of financial aid) taken by one or more nations to make another nation comply with a law or rule




2

sanction

play
verb sanc·tion

Definition of sanction for Students

sanctionedsanctioning

  1. :  to officially accept or allow <The coaches sanctioned the new rule.>




Law Dictionary

1

sanction

play
noun sanc·tion \ˈsaŋk-shən\

Legal Definition of sanction

  1. 1 :  a punitive or coercive measure or action that results from failure to comply with a law, rule, or order <a sanction for contempt>

  2. 2 :  explicit or official approval

  3. 3 :  an economic or military coercive measure adopted usually by several nations in concert for forcing a nation violating international law to desist or yield to adjudication




2

sanction

transitive verb sanc·tion

Legal Definition of sanction

  1. 1 :  to give official approval or consent to :  ratify

  2. 2 :  to impose a sanction on <sanctioned the lawyer for professional misconduct>





Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up sanction? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

marked by grandiloquent style

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

alt-5746713d76276

Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

disapprove soothe perplex reduce
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ