constitution

noun

con·​sti·​tu·​tion ˌkän(t)-stə-ˈtü-shən How to pronounce constitution (audio)
-ˈtyü-
1
a
: 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
2
a
: 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
constitutionless adjective

Did you know?

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 But the annual budget bill process achieves new levels of absurdity because of both a bait and switch change to the constitution in 2010 and the fact that California is now a one-party state. Jon Coupal, Orange County Register, 25 Feb. 2024 Any red state that allows for ballot measures to amend the state constitution. Kayla Bartsch, National Review, 25 Feb. 2024 The proposal, as passed by the Senate, would require amendments to the state constitution be approved essentially twice, a majority vote in at least five of the state’s eight congressional districts and a majority vote statewide. Kacen Bayless, Kansas City Star, 22 Feb. 2024 The majority ruling in this case rested solely on the justices’ interpretation of state law and an amendment of Alabama’s constitution. Isabel Rosales, CNN, 21 Feb. 2024 According to the constitution, elections have to be held 30-45 days before his mandate ends. arkansasonline.com, 17 Feb. 2024 The bill did not get a two-thirds supermajority in either the Assembly or the Senate; any bill introducing new taxes is supposed to be passed with a supermajority, according to the state’s constitution. Jason Mastrodonato, The Mercury News, 16 Feb. 2024 Key Background The new maps culminate the latest chapter in a saga over gerrymandering, stemming from a lawsuit filed in August by a group of Democratic voters who claimed the majority of Wisconsin’s districts violate a provision of the state’s constitution requiring all districts be contiguous. Brian Bushard, Forbes, 13 Feb. 2024 Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling make choices in this montage that seem minor in constitution but are crucial in meaning. Angelica Jade Bastién, Vulture, 7 Feb. 2024 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

see constitute

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

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

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Dictionary Entries Near constitution

Cite this Entry

“Constitution.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/constitution. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

constitution

noun
con·​sti·​tu·​tion ˌkän(t)-stə-ˈt(y)ü-shən How to pronounce constitution (audio)
1
: the act of establishing, making, or setting up
2
a
: the physical makeup of an individual
b
: the structure, composition, or basic qualities of something
3
a
: the basic beliefs and laws of a nation, state, or social group that establish the powers and duties of the government and guarantee certain rights to the people in it
b
: a document containing a constitution

Medical Definition

constitution

noun
con·​sti·​tu·​tion ˌkän(t)-stə-ˈt(y)ü-shən How to pronounce constitution (audio)
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
constitutional adjective

Legal Definition

constitution

noun
con·​sti·​tu·​tion
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).

Etymology

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

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