con·​sti·​tu·​tion | \ ˌkän(t)-stə-ˈtü-shən How to pronounce constitution (audio) , -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

Other Words from constitution

constitutionless \ ˌkän(t)-​stə-​ˈtü-​shən-​ləs How to pronounce constitution (audio) , -​ˈtyü-​ \ adjective

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Constitution was constituted in 14th-century English as a word indicating an established law or custom. It is from Latin constitutus, the past participle of constituere, meaning "to set up," which is based on an agreement of the prefix com- ("with, together, jointly") with the verb statuere ("to set or place"). Statuere is the root of statute, which, like constitution, has a legal background; it refers to a set law, rule, or regulation. Constitution is also the name for a system of laws and principles by which a country, state, or organization is governed or the document written as a record of them. Outside of law, the word is used in reference to the physical health or condition of the body ("a person of hearty constitution") or to the form or structure of something ("the molecular constitution of the chemical").

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? See More
Recent Examples on the Web Kyiv and the West said the referendum violated Ukraine’s constitution and international law. Guy Faulconbridge And Felix Light, The Christian Science Monitor, 20 Sep. 2022 The $10 million fine is the maximum amount allowed under NBA constitution and by-laws. Duane Rankin, The Arizona Republic, 14 Sep. 2022 The fine of $10 million is the most that can be levied under the NBA’s constitution and by-laws, the league said, and will be donated to organizations that focus on race and gender in and outside the workplace. Louise Radnofsky, WSJ, 13 Sep. 2022 By instinct, constitution, and training, the Queen knew that what was demanded of her was an almost superhuman splitting of self. Lila Maclellan, Fortune, 9 Sep. 2022 By instinct, constitution, and training, the Queen knew that what was demanded of her was an almost superhuman splitting of self. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 8 Sep. 2022 The first looks at efforts by the opposition parties allied against long-serving dictator Robert Mugabe to reform the country’s constitution and push Zimbabwe towards democracy. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 Aug. 2022 The biggest worry for many here is what will happen if Sogavare goes through with his plan to amend the constitution and defer next year’s election. Michael E. Miller, Washington Post, 11 Aug. 2022 Such a move is barred by the National Voter Registration Act and likely runs into significant protections under the federal — and possibly state — constitution and laws, constitutional law scholars say. Marc Levy, ajc, 14 May 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

25 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Constitution.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for constitution


con·​sti·​tu·​tion | \ ˌkän-stə-ˈtü-shən How to pronounce constitution (audio) , -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 How to pronounce constitution (audio) \

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 How to pronounce constitution (audio) \ adjective



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

More from Merriam-Webster on constitution

Nglish: Translation of constitution for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of constitution for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about constitution


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