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

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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 the development of "alienable," an adjective describing something you could give away or transfer ownership of, and "unalienable," its opposite. By about 1645, "inalienable" was also in use as a synonym of "unalienable." "Inalienable" is the more common variant today, but it was "unalienable" that was used in the Declaration of Independence to describe rights like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Examples of inalienable in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web We were born with inalienable rights bestowed upon us by our creator. Emma Colton, Washington Examiner, "WATCH: Small business owner in New York rips up $15K coronavirus fine on live TV," 25 Nov. 2020 His remarks drew a furious response from Chinese officials, who said Taiwan was an inalienable part of China, denounced Mr. Pompeo and vowed to retaliate. New York Times, "After Trump, Biden Faces Pressure to Stand Up to China by Embracing Taiwan," 24 Nov. 2020 There’s an implicit assumption in such articles that aligns with the meat industry’s own position: Meat consumption is inelastic, making it at once an inalienable right and an intractable problem. Jan Dutkiewicz, The New Republic, "Instead of Reengineering Cows, Just Eat Less Meat," 23 Oct. 2020 But governing us is their inalienable right; our political institutions exist for their benefit. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "The Martyrdom of Donald Trump," 11 Oct. 2020 On Tuesday, the former president of Mongolia, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, weighed in on the issue to voice support for the protesters on Twitter, calling the right to learn the Mongolian language inalienable. Eva Xiao, WSJ, "China Clamps Down on Mongols Protesting New Mandarin-Language Rules," 3 Sep. 2020 Rizzi got in his good-natured scoff, because special teams are an inalienable fact of life for undrafted rookies. Luke Johnson,, "How does an undrafted rookie LB crack the Saints roster? Well, it's 'not a secret'," 25 Aug. 2020 Those include a raucous free press to hold the powerful to account, schools and universities with a mandate to inculcate critical thinking in the young, and a rule of law in which individuals have inalienable rights. The Economist, "Chaguan China’s rulers will pay a high price for repression in Hong Kong," 22 Aug. 2020 The lawsuit claimed the law violated the inalienable rights to liberty, safety and happiness and equal protection sections of the Iowa Constitution. David Pitt, Star Tribune, "Iowa court dismisses suit over coverage for sex reassignment," 6 Aug. 2020

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.

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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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The first known use of inalienable was circa 1645

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Cite this Entry

“Inalienable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for inalienable



English Language Learners Definition of inalienable

formal : impossible to take away or give up


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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