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


Orders to blow up the bridge were countermanded.

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 But, except for his use of executive orders (often to countermand ones by Obama) and his cyber-bullying, Trump is essentially a passive participant in his own government. Elizabeth Drew, New Republic, "Who Knew Trump Would Be a Weak President?," 26 Oct. 2017 Nor do the president’s subordinates have the power to countermand him. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "Arpaio Pardon Shows the Futility of Mueller’s Obstruction Investigation," 2 Sep. 2017 Unlike other kinds of corruption, which can be countermanded with new laws, subpoenas, and other legislative tools, there is no direct way for Congress to stop Trump from pardoning anyone and everyone. Brian Beutler, New Republic, "Republicans Completely Own Trump’s Arpaio Pardon," 28 Aug. 2017 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 Numerous leaks in recent days claim the President is at odds with most of his senior team, allegedly deliberately countermanding their best advice like an obstreperous toddler. Kate Maltby, CNN, "Trump is making Theresa May's life miserable," 5 June 2017 But Mr. Trump countermanded them, refusing to make any long-term commitment. Robert Pear, New York Times, "Trump, Shouting ‘Death Spiral,’ Has Nudged Affordable Care Act Downward," 20 May 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

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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Time Traveler for countermand

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

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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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with countermand

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for countermand

Spanish Central: Translation of countermand

Nglish: Translation of countermand for Spanish Speakers

Comments on countermand

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to move or proceed with twists and turns

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