Magna Carta


Mag·​na Car·​ta ˈmag-nə-ˈkär-tə How to pronounce Magna Carta (audio)
variants or less commonly Magna Charta
: a charter of liberties to which the English barons forced King John to give his assent in June 1215 at Runnymede
: a document constituting a fundamental guarantee of rights and privileges

Examples of Magna Carta in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The United States grew from seedbeds in Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem, and especially in the English traditions of accountable government, from Magna Carta to the Glorious Revolution. The Editors, National Review, 16 Oct. 2023 Slowing down government The National Environmental Policy Act, passed by Congress in 1969 and signed into law by President Richard Nixon on January 1, 1970, was considered the Magna Carta of environmental protection law. Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN, 12 Aug. 2023 Like Justice Gorsuch, scheduled to teach in Padua again that summer, Justice Kavanaugh would teach his two-week class abroad — at a university in Surrey, southwest of London, with accommodations for his family nearby in Runnymede, on the River Thames, where Magna Carta was signed. Jo Becker, New York Times, 30 Apr. 2023 Pacific Legal Foundation Invoking the Magna Carta Katyal tried to appeal to the conservative justices in particular by references to history dating back to 1272 and the invocation of the court's recent rulings overturning Roe v. Wade and expanding gun rights. CBS News, 27 Apr. 2023 He’s bought originals of the Declaration of Independence and Magna Carta for public display and helped renovate the Kennedy Center and the Library of Congress. Gregory S. Schneider, Washington Post, 17 Apr. 2023 Even the Magna Carta—a bedrock document in the development of Western democracy—was agreed to by England’s King John after people rebelled against wars and taxes. Abdallah Fayyad, The Atlantic, 11 June 2020 For 50 years, the NEPA law has served as an environmental Magna Carta, obligating Americans to anticipate impacts before embarking on any major development projects involving the federal government, whether through funding, permitting or the work itself. Bruce Finley, The Denver Post, 9 Feb. 2020 At the time England’s Magna Carta first ushered in the concept of democratic choice, there were barely 300 million people in the world. David A. Andelman, CNN, 20 Dec. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Magna Carta.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Medieval Latin, literally, great charter

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of Magna Carta was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near Magna Carta

Cite this Entry

“Magna Carta.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Legal Definition

Magna Carta

Mag·​na Car·​ta
variants or Magna Charta
: a charter of liberties signed under duress by King John of England in 1215 that influenced the development of many important modern legal and constitutional principles (as due process)

Medieval Latin, literally, great charter

More from Merriam-Webster on Magna Carta

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