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

Keep scrolling for more

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

After all, baseball’s one inalienable source of perspective is the standings; Boston’s space there is clear. Emma Baccellieri,, "From Any Perspective, the Red Sox' Outlook Is Rough," 6 Aug. 2019 In effect, the new commission will contemplate who is and isn’t human, and who, therefore, possesses inalienable rights. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "Mike Pompeo’s Faith-Based Attempt to Narrowly Redefine Human Rights," 10 July 2019 Parents and guardians should have the right to refuse vaccinations for religious, philosophical or personal reasons, and that right should be protected and not infringed, as with our other inalienable human rights. WSJ, "We Must Vaccinate to Keep Diseases Defeated," 22 Feb. 2019 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about inalienable

Listen to Our Podcast about inalienable

Statistics for inalienable

Last Updated

18 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inalienable

The first known use of inalienable was circa 1645

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 inalienability (audio) \ 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).


a usually brief trip or an expedition

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!