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

Trump has publicly trashed America’s partnerships and multilateral institutions, often accusing allies of taking advantage of the US. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Mattis’s resignation was a scathing indictment of Trump’s foreign policy," 21 Dec. 2018 President Xi Jinping and President Trump, meeting on the sidelines of a recent multilateral summit in Buenos Aires, agreed to a 90-day tariff truce to give breathing room to negotiations. WSJ, "China to Suspend Punitive Tariffs on U.S. Cars and Auto Parts for Three Months," 14 Dec. 2018 In the last year, a smattering of bilateral and multilateral initiatives have sprung up, circumventing the traditional leadership position of the United States. Jean Chemnick, Scientific American, "How the World Is Coping 1 Year After Trump Abandoned Paris Climate Pact," 31 May 2018 In taking this unilateral approach, the administration ignores the vast multilateral framework that has emerged since the ’60s. Zachary Karabell, WSJ, "Tariffs Are Like a Knife in a Gunfight," 14 Oct. 2018 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

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

7 Feb 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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