con·sti·tu·tion | \ˌkän(t)-stə-ˈtü-shən, -ˈtyü-\

Definition of constitution 

1a : the basic principles and laws of a nation, state, or social group that determine the powers and duties of the government and guarantee certain rights to the people in it

b : a written instrument embodying the rules of a political or social organization

2a : the physical makeup of the individual especially with respect to the health, strength, and appearance of the body a hearty constitution

b : the structure, composition, physical makeup, or nature of something the constitution of society

3 : the mode in which a state or society is organized especially : the manner in which sovereign power is distributed

4 : an established law or custom : ordinance

5 : the act of establishing, making, or setting up before the constitution of civil laws

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Other Words from constitution

constitutionless \ˌkän(t)-stə-ˈtü-shən-ləs, -ˈtyü- \ adjective

Examples of constitution in a Sentence

The state's constitution has strict rules about what tax money can be used for. Members of the club have drafted a new constitution. The state's original constitution is on display at the museum. He has a robust constitution. Only animals with strong constitutions are able to survive the island's harsh winters. What is the molecular constitution of the chemical?
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Recent Examples on the Web

That the Senate should be disproportionate would not have disappointed the men who wrote America’s constitution. The Economist, "America’s electoral system gives the Republicans advantages over Democrats," 12 July 2018 Critics say that changes made to Hungary's constitution will have the impact of undermining democracy there. Denise Coffey, Courant Community, "Pomfret School Alumni Share Thoughts On Trump, Putin, Jinping," 21 May 2018 Nearly 2,600 female candidates are vying for a quarter – a quota allotted to women under the constitution – of parliament's 329 seats in these elections, the fourth since Saddam's 2003 ouster. Ali Abdul-hassan And Sinan Salaheddin, The Christian Science Monitor, "Despite challenges, Iraq's female candidates run for parliament," 3 May 2018 The initiative, if passed by voters in November, would amend the state constitution to provide certain voting rights for Michigan citizens. Carol Cain, Detroit Free Press, "Outgoing ACLU chief Kary Moss pushes ballot-access proposal," 30 June 2018 If that backs the agreement, lawmakers will have to amend the constitution to formalize the name change. Konstantin Testorides, The Seattle Times, "Macedonian president refuses to sign off on change of name," 26 June 2018 The cabinet will seek to amend the constitution to make the legislation tougher. Zoltan Simon,, "Orban Plans Tougher NGO Law in Showdown With European Party Ally," 14 May 2018 South Carolina Active bill would amend the state constitution so that the legislature would have the authority to allow gambling, including sports betting and betting on horse racing. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, "Your state-by-state guide to sports betting in light of Supreme Court ruling," 14 May 2018 Proposition 69 on the June 5 ballot would amend the state constitution to require all the new revenue go to transportation. Joshua Emerson Smith,, "Where is San Diego's gas tax money going?," 13 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'constitution.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of constitution

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for constitution

see constitute

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Last Updated

23 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for constitution

The first known use of constitution was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of constitution

: the system of beliefs and laws by which a country, state, or organization is governed

: a document that describes this system

: the physical health and condition of a person or animal


con·sti·tu·tion | \ˌkän-stə-ˈtü-shən, -ˈtyü-\

Kids Definition of constitution

1 : the physical makeup of an individual

2 : the basic structure of something

3 : the basic beliefs and laws of a nation, state, or social group by which the powers and duties of the government are established and certain rights are guaranteed to the people or a document that sets forth these beliefs and laws


con·sti·tu·tion | \ˌkän(t)-stə-ˈt(y)ü-shən \

Medical Definition of constitution 

1 : the physical makeup of the individual comprising inherited qualities modified by environment

2 : the structure of a compound as determined by the kind, number, and arrangement of atoms in its molecule

Other Words from constitution

constitutional \-shnəl, -shən-ᵊl \ adjective

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Legal Definition of constitution 

1 : the basic principles and laws of a nation, state, or social group that determine the powers and duties of the government and guarantee certain rights to the people in it

2 : a written instrument containing the fundamental rules of a political or social organization especially, capitalized : the U.S. Constitution — compare charter, declaration

Note: A constitution was originally simply a law, ordinance, or decree usually made by a king, emperor, or other superior authority. A constitution now usually contains the fundamental law and principles with which all other laws must conform. Unlike the U.S. Constitution, the British Constitution is not set down in a comprehensive document, but is found in a variety of statutes (as the Magna Carta) and in common law. Canada inherited many of the rules and practices that are considered part of the British Constitution, but the Constitution of Canada is also set down in comprehensive documents, such as the Constitution Act, 1982 and the Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly called the British North America Act, 1867).

History and Etymology for constitution

Latin constitutio system, fundamental principles (of an institution), from constituere to set up, establish

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Comments on constitution

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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