plural cartes blanches ˈkärt(s)-ˈblänch How to pronounce carte blanche (audio) -ˈbläⁿsh How to pronounce carte blanche (audio)
: full discretionary (see discretion sense 1a) power
was given carte blanche to furnish the house

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Carte blanche is much like a blank check. In French, carte means "document" and blanche means "blank," so the phrase means "blank document." English retained that literal meaning: a carte blanche was a blank document signed in advance by one party and given to the other with permission to fill in conditions later. Much like blank check, carte blanche also took on the extended meaning "complete freedom."

Examples of carte blanche in a Sentence

We gave the decorator carte blanche to furnish the house.
Recent Examples on the Web But a Donald Trump who takes office on Jan. 20, 2025, will read it as carte blanche. Philip Bump, Washington Post, 1 July 2024 Wrangel Island had no predators—including humans—and no other grazing animals, which gave the woolly mammoths carte blanche to munch and reproduce freely. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 June 2024 Following a mob that is devoid of any critical thinking is giving carte blanche to the very politicians that are bent on eliminating the essence of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Letters To The Editor, Hartford Courant, 5 June 2024 For it, the designer, who crafted France’s Olympic uniforms, was given carte blanche to work with the house’s ateliers. Lily Templeton, WWD, 3 Sep. 2019 See all Example Sentences for carte blanche 

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

Word History


French, literally, blank document

First Known Use

1751, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of carte blanche was in 1751


Dictionary Entries Near carte blanche

Cite this Entry

“Carte blanche.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jul. 2024.

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