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countermanded; countermanding; countermands

transitive verb

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


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coun·​ter·​mand ˈkau̇n-tər-ˌmand How to pronounce countermand (audio)
: a contrary order
: 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 English since the 1400s.

Examples of countermand in a Sentence

Verb Orders to blow up the bridge were countermanded.
Recent Examples on the Web
Captain Burke, however, countermanded the order and ordered his ship back on its course across the open lake. Gabe Hauari, USA TODAY, 13 Feb. 2024 But several policing experts said that creating that kind of training presented a challenge because countermanding orders from an incident commander went against the very orientation of most police departments. Edgar Sandoval, New York Times, 24 May 2023 More than a century later, Americans are still fighting for these rights as voting rights come under fire and Congress just this week started work on yet another outline to countermand state-level efforts to restrict voting in places like Georgia and Texas. Philip Elliott, Time, 25 Aug. 2021 Hutchinson could not countermand him. Stacy Schiff, Smithsonian Magazine, 21 Sep. 2022 Trump’s argument by noting, among other reasons, that the former chief executive could not countermand the actual president on when executive privilege could be invoked. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 16 Nov. 2022 The way everything is structured, there's no way to countermand that, and it's done. WIRED, 8 Sep. 2022 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

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

Word History



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

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of countermand was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near countermand

Cite this Entry

“Countermand.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: to cancel a previous command
: to recall or order back by a contrary order

More from Merriam-Webster on countermand

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