coun·​ter·​mand | \ ˈkau̇n-tər-ˌmand How to pronounce countermand (audio) , ˌkau̇n-tər-ˈmand How to pronounce countermand (audio) \
countermanded; countermanding; countermands

Definition of countermand

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to revoke (a command) by a contrary order
2 : to recall or order back by a superseding contrary order countermand reinforcements


coun·​ter·​mand | \ ˈkau̇n-tər-ˌmand How to pronounce countermand (audio) \

Definition of countermand (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a contrary order
2 : the revocation of an order or command

Did you know?

In the military, one's mandate is to follow the commands (and sometimes the countermands) of the officers. Doing their bidding is not particularly commendable—it's simply mandatory. The Latin verb mandare, meaning "to entrust" or "to order," is the authority behind countermand. It's also behind the words mandate, command, demand, commend (which can mean "to entrust" as well as "to praise"), and mandatory. Countermand came to English via Anglo French, where the prefix cuntre- ("against") was combined with the verb mander ("to command"). It has been a part of our language since the 1400s.

Examples of countermand in a Sentence

Verb Orders to blow up the bridge were countermanded.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Trump could sue to try to get the courts to countermand Biden. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, 16 Feb. 2022 Alex Nedeljkovic made 29 saves in his first game against his former teammates, who did their best to countermand COVID-19. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, 17 Dec. 2021 The chairman oversees the communication system that connects the president with combatant commanders who execute orders, but the chairman does not have the legal authority to countermand a launch directive. Loren Thompson, Forbes, 1 Oct. 2021 The second pilot tried to countermand the order, leading to another argument between the pilots., 18 July 2021 But the former president’s fitful bouts of nostalgia had little effect on policy: when his own Department of Defense moved to bar Confederate flags from military property, Trump did not countermand the order. Matthew Karp, Harper's Magazine, 22 June 2021 The idea that the AI driving system could utterly refuse to open a car door and countermand a human passenger is crazy talk for some. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 21 June 2021 Alongi, whose family has run a restaurant in Du Quoin since 1933, said residents had asked him to somehow countermand an Oct. 19 order by Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) reimposing a ban on indoor seating at dining establishments. Will Englund, Washington Post, 26 Feb. 2021 Republican support for the lawsuit and its call to throw out millions of votes in four battleground states was rooted in baseless claims of fraud, an extraordinary display of the party’s willingness to countermand the will of voters. Nomaan Merchant And Alanna Durkin Richer,, 12 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun It was also suspected of attacking commercial shipping and Saudi oil installations, leading Mr Trump to order, then countermand, a military strike on Iranian targets. The Economist, 26 Dec. 2019 See More

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

First Known Use of countermand


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for countermand


Middle English countermaunden, from Anglo-French cuntremander, from cuntre- counter- + mander to command, from Latin mandare — more at mandate

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Cite this Entry

“Countermand.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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