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

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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 But a referendum effort driven by opponents of the project will ask Newton’s Super Tuesday voters to countermand the council’s decision on the zoning change. John Hilliard,, "Newton City Council sets March 3 special election to decide Northland mixed-use development," 22 Jan. 2020 Al-Mohandes was among the protestors on New Year’s Eve, apparently countermanding Mahdi’s orders and keeping the violence going. Kimberly Dozier, Time, "Despite U.S.-Iraq Feud, Iraqi Prime Minister Privately Mulls Delay of U.S. Troop Departure," 7 Jan. 2020 The New York Democrat requested the Justice Department's internal watchdog look into how and why Stone's sentencing recommendations were countermanded, who at the Justice Department made the decision, and who at the White House was involved. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, "Schumer calls on Justice Department watchdog to probe Stone sentencing recommendations," 11 Feb. 2020 The Republican witness did not rule out such a verdict -- but cautioned against rushing a process that could countermand the 2016 election. Stephen Collinson And Caitlin Hu, CNN, "Does the Constitution justify impeaching Trump?," 5 Dec. 2019 Still unknown is the impact that being publicly countermanded by Mr. Trump will have on Admiral Green, the commander who set the process of revoking Chief Gallagher’s Trident in motion. Dave Philipps, New York Times, "Trump Reverses Navy Decision to Oust Edward Gallagher From SEALs," 21 Nov. 2019 The refusal to countermand organizations like the National Rifle Association that roadblock efforts to address common-sense gun laws. John D'anna, azcentral, "Spiritual leader of Arizona Methodists calls flock to action on gun violence, racism," 7 Aug. 2019 The move is unlikely to amount to much, the product of a procedural mechanism that seems easy to countermand. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "A Reminder of the Power of Art: raceAhead," 17 July 2019 The announcement, made yesterday by Vice President Pence, countermands a decision by the Navy to retire the carrier early to save money. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Why the Navy Won’t Retire the USS Truman Early," 1 May 2019 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, "2019 in review: More Arab revolutions, but how much change?," 26 Dec. 2019

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.

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

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Last Updated

6 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Countermand.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for countermand


How to pronounce countermand (audio) How to pronounce countermand (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of countermand

formal : to cancel (an order) especially by giving a new order

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More from Merriam-Webster on countermand

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for countermand

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with countermand

Spanish Central: Translation of countermand

Nglish: Translation of countermand for Spanish Speakers

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