mul·​ti·​lat·​er·​al | \ ˌməl-tē-ˈla-t(ə-)rəl How to pronounce multilateral (audio) , -ˌtī-\

Definition of multilateral

1 : having many sides
2 : involving or participated in by more than two nations or parties multilateral agreements

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Other Words from multilateral

multilateralism \ ˌməl-​tē-​ˈla-​t(ə-​)rə-​ˌli-​zəm How to pronounce multilateralism (audio) , -​ˌtī-​ \ noun
multilateralist \ ˌməl-​tē-​ˈla-​t(ə-​)rə-​list How to pronounce multilateralist (audio) , -​ˌtī-​ \ noun
multilaterally adverb

Did You Know?

Since lateral means "side", multilateral means basically "many-sided". The philosophy of multilateralism claims that the best solutions generally result when as many of the world's nations as possible are involved in discussions, and multilateralists often favor strengthening the United Nations. Today multilateralism can be seen at work in, for example, the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, and the International Criminal Court. But the U.S. doesn't always join the major multilateral organizations, instead often behaving as if a unilateral approach—that is, going it alone—was best for the interests of a powerful nation.

Examples of multilateral in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

So a multilateral agreement to weaken the dollar, would in turn increase the value of, for example, the euro or the British pound. Anneken Tappe, CNN, "Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump want a weaker US dollar. That could backfire," 6 June 2019 China resorted to the WTO’s dispute-settlement mechanism as a necessary step to defend its interests and multilateral trade rules, the ministry said. WSJ, "China Says It Brought U.S. Solar Tariffs to WTO," 14 Aug. 2018 To Mr Trump, who prefers one-on-one deals to multilateral rules, bilateral figures may mean more than averages. The Economist, "How open is America?," 14 June 2018 China initially reacts with cautious criticism, urging the United States to abide by multilateral trade rules and do nothing to damage the fragile global economic recovery. Rick Noack, Washington Post, "How Trump risked a trade war with China and alienated U.S. allies in less than 30 days," 6 Apr. 2018 China initially reacts with cautious criticism, urging the United States to abide by multilateral trade rules and do nothing to damage the fragile global economic recovery. Washington Post,, "In less than 30 days, Trump has risked a trade war with China and alienated U.S allies. Here's how we got here," 6 Apr. 2018 Russia has hosted multilateral talks on Afghanistan in the past, but this is the first time the Taliban are known to have accepted an invitation. Jessica Donati, WSJ, "Taliban to Attend Afghanistan Talks in Moscow," 20 Aug. 2018 The Senate bill grants the President power to negotiate new bilateral and multilateral trade deals. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "China’s Military Escalation," 4 June 2018 Trump has displayed a particular distaste for anything that implies international cooperation: The Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Iran deal, the Paris Climate Accords, and UNESCO are just a few multilateral agreements that he’s backed out of. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Here’s why Trump threatened to pull out of a 144-year-old postal treaty," 19 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'multilateral.' 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 multilateral

1606, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for multilateral

Last Updated

13 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for multilateral

The first known use of multilateral was in 1606

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More from Merriam-Webster on multilateral

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for multilateral

Spanish Central: Translation of multilateral

Nglish: Translation of multilateral for Spanish Speakers

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