mul·​ti·​lat·​er·​al | \ˌməl-tē-ˈla-t(ə-)rəl, -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 \ -​ˈla-​t(ə-​)rə-​ˌli-​zəm \ noun
multilateralist \ -​list \ 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

Political discourse is another area where youth participation is critical, including in multilateral fora. Miroslav Lajčák, Teen Vogue, "United Nations General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák's Open Letter to Youth About Climate Change," 2 Aug. 2018 And his America First reservations about multilateral arrangements, from the G7 to the WTO, NAFTA and NATO, run deep. The Economist, "Will Donald Trump be Triumphant, Tetchy or Torpedo?," 5 July 2018 The Trump administration is expected to announce as soon as Thursday the formal suspension of planning for major multilateral military drills in August, US officials told CNN. Ben Westcott, CNN, "Pompeo: No sanctions relief for North Korea until complete denuclearization," 14 June 2018 In the weeks before the summit, alliance leaders feared Trump would try to blow everything up, dealing a truly severe blow to the multilateral world order and to trans-Atlantic deterrence and cohesion., "At NATO, Trump claims allies make new defense spending commitments after he upends summit," 13 July 2018 Macron urged Europe to defend the global multilateral order, for the sake of the continent's sovereignty. Fox News, "France's Macron backs European unity amid US tensions," 11 May 2018 Most trade experts agree that a better strategy to address Chinese trade practices is to work with other countries as part of a multilateral effort. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Can the US-China trade war be stopped? 11 experts weigh in.," 8 July 2018 Following talks Monday in Beijing, Vice Premier Liu He -- President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser -- said China and the European Union had agreed to defend the multilateral trading system. Saleha Mohsin,, "U.S. Plans Curbs on Chinese Investment, Citing Security Risk," 25 June 2018 Of all the postwar multilateral institutions that have come under assault from President Donald Trump, the World Trade Organization is most immediately at risk. Simon Nixon, WSJ, "Trump Puts the WTO on the Ropes," 11 July 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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Last Updated

14 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for multilateral

The first known use of multilateral was in 1606

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Spanish Central: Translation of multilateral

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