in·​alien·​able | \ (ˌ)i-ˈnāl-yə-nə-bəl How to pronounce inalienable (audio) , -ˈnā-lē-ə-nə- \

Definition of inalienable

: incapable of being alienated, surrendered, or transferred inalienable rights

Other Words from inalienable

inalienability \ (ˌ)i-​ˌnāl-​yə-​nə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce inalienable (audio) , -​ˌnā-​lē-​ə-​nə-​ \ noun
inalienably \ (ˌ)i-​ˈnāl-​yə-​nə-​blē How to pronounce inalienable (audio) , -​ˈnā-​lē-​ə-​nə-​ \ adverb

Did you know?

Alien, alienable, inalienable—it's easy enough to see the Latin word alius, meaning "other," at the root of these three words. Alien joined our language in the 14th century, and one of its earliest meanings was "belonging to another." By the early 1600s that sense of alien had led to alienable, an adjective describing something you can give away or transfer to another owner. The word unalienable came about as its opposite, but so did inalienable, a word most likely borrowed into English on its own from French. Inalienable is the more common form today, and although we often see both forms used to modify "rights," it was unalienable that was used in the Declaration of Independence to describe life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Examples of inalienable in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The notion that everyone has certain inalienable rights simply by virtue of being a human being is a relatively recent advancement, dating back to the Enlightenment. Gal Beckerman, The Atlantic, 19 Apr. 2022 Our country was founded on these inalienable rights. al, 8 Apr. 2022 The map of China used in the presentation omitted Taiwan, which Beijing insists is an inalienable part of the country. Trefor Moss, WSJ, 31 Jan. 2022 In essence, a previously universal and inalienable right would become a location-dependent one. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, 30 Nov. 2021 From inalienable rights to Iron Man, Americans churn out the concepts and culture that make the modern world tick, more and better than anyone else. Michael Schuman, The Atlantic, 14 Dec. 2021 So central and inalienable is the role of trauma in the present-day understanding of personhood that fiction on the subject often seems flatfooted. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 22 Oct. 2021 But the wasteland itself seems to speak with an inalienable clarity, shorn of insincerity or irrelevance. The New Yorker, 16 Sep. 2021 In a nation where the Constitution grants citizens inalienable rights, the line between those rights and collapse of law and order is not an easy one to draw. Patrik Jonsson, The Christian Science Monitor, 9 Sep. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of inalienable

circa 1645, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for inalienable

probably from French inaliénable, from in- + aliénable alienable

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Time Traveler for inalienable

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The first known use of inalienable was circa 1645

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Dictionary Entries Near inalienable

in a league of one's own


in alignment

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Last Updated

24 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Inalienable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for inalienable


in·​alien·​able | \ i-ˈnāl-yə-nə-bəl How to pronounce inalienable (audio) \

Kids Definition of inalienable

: impossible to take away or give up Our citizens have certain inalienable rights.


in·​alien·​able | \ in-ˈāl-yə-nə-bəl, -ˈā-lē-ə- How to pronounce inalienable (audio) \

Legal Definition of inalienable

: incapable of being alienated, surrendered, or transferred inalienable rights

Other Words from inalienable

inalienability \ -​ˌāl-​yə-​nə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē, -​ˌā-​lē-​ə-​ How to pronounce inalienable (audio) \ noun
inalienably adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on inalienable

Nglish: Translation of inalienable for Spanish Speakers


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