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 Long before the outbreak, Mr. Trump had repeatedly shown his distaste for joining multilateral initiatives – on trade, on climate change, and on Iran’s nuclear program, for example. Peter Ford, The Christian Science Monitor, "Power shift: How America’s retreat is reshaping global affairs," 26 June 2020 Congress received formal notification of the decision on Tuesday, more than a month after President Donald Trump announced his intention to end the U.S. relationship with the WHO and blasted the multilateral institution as a tool of China. Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY, "Trump has officially withdrawn the US from the World Health Organization as pandemic spikes," 7 July 2020 The efficacy of the IMF and World Bank loans may depend on Western efforts to ensure transparency around the multilateral coronavirus relief as well as the details of China’s loan program. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "How scarce US taxpayer money could wind up in China's coffers," 25 June 2020 But Trump is reluctant to end the treaty unless China is included in a new multilateral agreement. Jamie Mcintyre, Washington Examiner, "After virtual NATO ministerial, US defense secretary makes personal appearance in Brussels to reassure nervous allies," 26 June 2020 In characteristic style, Mr. Trump backed his preference for bilateral trade deals over multilateral affairs with a threat – to veto all nominations to the seven-judge appellate body and thus disarm it. Peter Ford, The Christian Science Monitor, "Power shift: How America’s retreat is reshaping global affairs," 26 June 2020 His contempt for multilateral institutions remains unbent. Patrick Iber, The New Republic, "John Bolton’s Accidentally Unflattering Self-Portrait," 25 June 2020 As government policymakers, multilateral institutions and global NGOs focus on reducing poverty and inequality in low-income countries, many of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa, more attention has been paid to programs like universal basic income. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "African governments are being forced to develop social welfare programs in an economic crisis," 23 June 2020 In the 1970s, Britain had joined the Common Market, predecessor to the European Union, in a spirit animated by the UN ideal of belonging to an international order of multilateral organizations under the rule of law. Philippe Sands, The New York Review of Books, "Britain’s Colonial Legacy on Trial at The Hague," 23 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for multilateral

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The first known use of multilateral was in 1606

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Last Updated

1 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Multilateral.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2020.

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Spanish Central: Translation of multilateral

Nglish: Translation of multilateral for Spanish Speakers

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