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

For some reason, his school – in a country where freedom of speech is a constitution right, and the city of Frederick Douglass – turned his moment of triumph into a time of sorrow and pain. Rebecca Bratek, CBS News, "Principal refuses to allow first black valedictorian to give speech, so Rochester mayor intervenes," 4 July 2018 The Texas constitution says all 150 members of the House get a vote on that first day of the session. Jasper Scherer, San Antonio Express-News, "Straus’ presence felt at convention despite his absence," 16 June 2018 Schwarz’s commission wasn’t merely an exercise in high-minded constitution-making. David Freedlander, Daily Intelligencer, "Not That Long Ago, New York City Really Was Run From a Smoke-filled Backroom," 14 June 2018 With support of more than 60 percent of voters, the amendment passed and will revise the state constitution to prohibit both offshore oil and gas drilling and the use of e-cigarettes in indoor workplaces. Julia Belluz, Vox, "Florida passed this year’s weirdest ballot initiative: a ban on vaping and offshore drilling," 7 Nov. 2018 In the case that Roe is overturned, this would ensure that the state's constitution could not be used to allow abortions. Amanda Mitchell, Marie Claire, "Abortion Measures in the Midterms You Really, Really Need to Know About," 26 Oct. 2018 The organizations argued that by allowing oil drilling, the government was violating the Norwegian constitution — which, according to Reuters, includes the guarantee of a safe environment. Jameelah Nasheed, Teen Vogue, "This Norwegian Teen Is Fighting Her Government on Arctic Oil Drilling," 4 Oct. 2018 The other way to change the constitution is by amendment. Author: Charles Wohlforth | Opinion, Anchorage Daily News, "How the Alaska Constitution could protect the Permanent Fund from the legislature," 13 Mar. 2018 According to ThinkProgress, a petition to change Florida's constitution to allow certain people who were previously convicted of felonies to vote has garnered enough signatures to appear on the state election ballot in November. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "Florida Ballot Measure Could Allow Convicted Felons to Vote," 24 Jan. 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

4 Dec 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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a nest or breeding place

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