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 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 The power struggle turns tragic when Khrushchev countermands Beria's order to shut down the rail lines while Stalin lies in state and a flood of mourners into Moscow results in Soviet security forces slaughtering 1,500 people. J.r. Jones, Chicago Reader, "The Death of Stalin shines a light on Lavrenti Beria, head of the Soviet Union’s dreaded secret police.," 15 Mar. 2018 That would countermand more stringent rules, imposed by the two federal agencies in charge of protecting salmon, smelt and other endangered species in the Delta, that have been in place since 2009. Ryan Sabalow And Dale Kasler, sacbee, "The drought is over. Why are Republicans in Congress fighting for more water for farmers?," 20 July 2017 Bossert countermanded a lower level manager who tried to stop the ball tossing. Kirk Mitchell, The Denver Post, "Racial and sexual discrimination alleged at Denver life insurance company," 23 Jan. 2017 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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Cite this Entry

“Countermand.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Mar. 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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