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

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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 Even the progressive edge of climate politics in the United States can be a bit parochial, omitting questions of climate finance, debt and historical responsibility that are roiling in UN climate talks and other multilateral institutions. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 19 July 2021 The kind of multilateral approach developed during the Obama years, and signaled by President Biden in his memorandum, might be more productive. Mark Gevisser, Time, 24 June 2021 Biden arrives at the summit fresh from enthusiastic meetings with allies welcoming the return of the United States to conventional multilateral diplomacy. Eli Stokols, Los Angeles Times, 14 June 2021 Trump was wholly indifferent to the scientific consensus around a warming planet, allergic to multilateral diplomacy, and insisted throughout that efforts to mitigate climate change were not in the U.S. national interest. Washington Post, 23 Apr. 2021 Iran is shaping up to be a major test of the Biden administration's overall approach to foreign policy, which the president has said will realign itself with the kind of multilateral diplomacy that Trump shunned. Matthew Lee,, 23 Feb. 2021 At both, Biden is expected to discuss his commitment to multilateral diplomacy and his desire to undo damage that Trump's positions may have caused over the previous four years. Matthew Lee, ajc, 19 Feb. 2021 The Vatican, too, was clearly pleased given the decision aligns with Pope Francis' environmental agenda and belief in multilateral diplomacy. Frank Jordans, Star Tribune, 21 Jan. 2021 President Hassan Rouhani signed a multilateral nuclear deal with the six world powers in 2015 to restrain its nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions on the country. Sohel Uddin, ABC News, 18 June 2021

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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The first known use of multilateral was in 1606

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Last Updated

2 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Multilateral.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Aug. 2021.

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Nglish: Translation of multilateral for Spanish Speakers


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