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

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 In our system, inalienable rights — including the one to self-defense — can’t be swept away by angry crowds. William Cummings, USA TODAY, "The Bubble: March for Our Lives protesters dismissed by conservatives," 26 Mar. 2018 The question at hand is not how to solve the 'gun problem', but how to keep our schools and all places of gathering safe, without compromising the inalienable rights all Americans share. Mark Somerville, Anchorage Daily News, "I’m a gun owner and willing to talk about gun violence in schools. I don’t think we have a ‘gun problem.’," 12 Mar. 2018 Forty-five years ago, the Supreme Court turned its back on the inalienable right to life. Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post, "Trump gets mixed reviews from March for Life antiabortion protesters," 6 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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Last Updated

10 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for inalienable

The first known use of inalienable was circa 1645

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More Definitions for inalienable



English Language Learners Definition of inalienable

: 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

Comments on inalienable

What made you want to look up inalienable? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

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