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

At the same time, Russia also has expressed an interest in multilateral arms control deals, according to one of the administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the issue ahead of the talks Wednesday in Geneva. Washington Post, "US, Russian delegations to discuss arms control in Geneva," 17 July 2019 Tensions between the United States and Iran have been rising for more than a year, beginning when Trump unilaterally withdrew from a multilateral deal with Iran aimed at limiting its nuclear program. John Fritze, USA TODAY, "Donald Trump threatens 'overwhelming force' against Iran if it attacks 'anything American'," 25 June 2019 Among the participants is India, a key economic partner of Tehran, and China, which—along with Russia, Germany, the U.K. and France—is party to the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal with Iran that the U.S. exited last year. Sune Engel Rasmussen, WSJ, "Iran Seeks to Build International Alliance Against U.S. Pressure," 18 June 2019 If, however, Iran ignores this array of international sea power and bombs a ship, blasts a U.S. drone, or otherwise misbehaves, Trump already will have in place — just a few miles away — potential partners for a multilateral reprisal. Deroy Murdock, National Review, "Trump Should Assemble a Multinational Naval Convoy," 28 June 2019 State repression of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang is being held up as an international emergency by human-rights groups and multilateral institutions. Charlie Campbell, Time, "Hong Kong’s Uprising Rattles the Mainland," 20 June 2019 The trade element of Trumponomics is a striking departure from previous administrations’ policies, and a stiff challenge to the multilateral trading system. The Economist, "President Donald Trump is trashing deals in favour of tariffs," 7 June 2019 Trump's rejection of the diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear crisis undermines multilateral diplomacy and the very underpinnings of the nuclear order. Nicole Gaouette, CNN, "Saudi Arabia set to pursue nuclear weapons if Iran restarts program," 9 May 2018 Frustrated over the North’s pursuit of nuclear weapons but still preferring a nuclear North Korea over a collapsed one, China drove a multilateral push to resolve the nuclear standoff that collapsed after December 2008 talks. Washington Post, "Key moments in relations between North Korea, China," 21 June 2019

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

25 Jul 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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to shake or wave menacingly

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