in·​alien·​able | \ (ˌ)i-ˈnāl-yə-nə-bəl , -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 , -​ˌnā-​lē-​ə-​nə-​ \ noun
inalienably \ (ˌ)i-​ˈnāl-​yə-​nə-​blē , -​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

The inalienable right to pursue it, along with life and liberty, was enshrined by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. Edith Hall, WSJ, "Aristotle’s Pursuit of Happiness," 31 Jan. 2019 No relationship between a colony and the federal government can ever be called ‘successful’ because Puerto Ricans lack certain inalienable rights enjoyed by our fellow Americans in the states. Jonathan Lemire, The Seattle Times, "Trump: Storm response in Puerto Rico ‘incredibly successful’," 11 Sep. 2018 Endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Read the Full Transcript of Barack Obama's Speech at John McCain's Funeral," 1 Sep. 2018 Then again, no club goes through a season as utterly convinced as Real Madrid that winning the Champions League is its inalienable right. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "Real Madrid Survives and Advances to Champions League Final," 1 May 2018 This glorious right may not be exactly inalienable, though — especially in Half Moon Bay., "5 hidden beaches around Half Moon Bay," 12 July 2018 Merriam-Webster tells us, with the additional information that inalienable has become the more common form. John E. Mcintyre,, "In a word: unalienable," 3 July 2018 Sounds like this toddler is learning about her inalienable rights early. Sarah Schreiber, Good Housekeeping, "Officers Hilariously "Breathalyze" a Toddler Who Looked a Little Too Suspicious on the Road," 26 Oct. 2016 The Eighth is the only inalienable right the unborn have to protect them from changes in government thinking. Ciara Nugent, Time, "Why Thousands of Irish Expats Are Flying Home to Vote in the Historic Abortion Referendum," 24 May 2018

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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Last Updated

17 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for inalienable

The first known use of inalienable was circa 1645

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English Language Learners Definition of inalienable

formal : impossible to take away or give up


in·​alien·​able | \ i-ˈnāl-yə-nə-bəl \

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- \

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-​ \ noun
inalienably adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on inalienable

Spanish Central: Translation of inalienable

Nglish: Translation of inalienable for Spanish Speakers

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