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 inalienability (audio) , -​ˌnā-​lē-​ə-​nə-​ \ noun
inalienably \ (ˌ)i-​ˈnāl-​yə-​nə-​blē How to pronounce inalienably (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 Individual property must be protected, in this view, not only because of the inalienable right to enjoy what one owns without fear of damage or theft, but also because if there were no guarantee of this right, economic progress would be impossible. Adam Tooze, The New York Review of Books, "How ‘Big Law’ Makes Big Money," 28 Jan. 2020 AP Photo/Andrew Harnik Americans like to celebrate their Constitution, their country’s foundational document, which enshrines certain inalienable rights. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "Most of the world’s constitutions guarantee more rights than America’s," 14 Jan. 2020 This is about protecting the inalienable rights that were granted from God. al, "Faith, football and politics explode in Alabama over 50-yard-line baptisms," 12 Jan. 2020 Unalienable crops up in the early years of the seventeenth century, inalienable in the middle of the seventeenth century. John E. Mcintyre,, "In a word: unalienable," 3 July 2018 What each of us needs is a self-sovereign and inalienable digital identity, one that is neither bestowed nor revocable by any central administrator and is enforceable in any context, in person and online, anywhere in the world. Don Tapscott, Quartz, "We’re living in an era of digital feudalism. Here’s how to take your data and identity back," 11 Sep. 2019 This myth of the seemingly inalienable right to dominance and control perpetrated by men, especially by white males, has myriad catastrophic downsides. Henry Rollins,, "Men are expected to be ‘strong silent types’ — and it’s breaking them, says Henry Rollins," 20 June 2019 Oh, and protecting the inalienable right to a cheeseburger. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "How Democratic candidates deal with the only bipartisan value left: cheeseburgers," 5 Sep. 2019 These classical liberals fought with conservatives of all stripes, arguing for inalienable and universal human rights. Anchorage Daily News, "Let’s hope Bannon never comes back from European tour," 20 Mar. 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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Time Traveler for inalienable

Time Traveler

The first known use of inalienable was circa 1645

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Last Updated

3 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Inalienable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for inalienable


How to pronounce inalienable (audio)

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 inalienability (audio) \ 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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