res·​er·​va·​tion | \ ˌre-zər-ˈvā-shən How to pronounce reservation (audio) \

Definition of reservation

1 : an act of reserving something: such as
a(1) : the act or fact of a grantor's reserving some newly created thing out of the thing granted
(2) : the right or interest so reserved
b : the setting of limiting conditions or withholding from complete exposition answered without reservation
c : an arrangement to have something (such as a hotel room) held for one's use also : a promise, guarantee, or record of such engagement
2a : a limiting condition agreed, but with reservations
b : doubt, misgiving had serious reservations about marriage
3 : something reserved: such as
a : a tract of public land set aside (as for use by American Indians)
b : an area in which hunting is not permitted especially : one set aside as a secure breeding place

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Other Words from reservation

reservationist \ ˌre-​zər-​ˈvā-​sh(ə-​)nist How to pronounce reservation (audio) \ noun

Examples of reservation in a Sentence

We made dinner reservations at the restaurant for 6 o'clock. I have a hotel reservation. My only reservation about buying the car was its high price.
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Recent Examples on the Web They are traditionally grown together in mounds, as the Websters do on the Oneida reservation. Richard Mertens, The Christian Science Monitor, "Seeds and beyond: Native Americans embrace ‘food sovereignty’," 22 Feb. 2021 Beane, whose ancestors were born on the Lower Sioux reservation, grew up visiting the historic site. Kelly Smith, Star Tribune, "In an unprecedented step, Minnesota returns 114 acres to Lower Sioux Indian Community," 20 Feb. 2021 The lawsuit argued that the administration failed to adhere to historical treaty boundaries and that the pipeline would affect the water on the reservation and desecrate the land. Barnini Chakraborty, Washington Examiner, "Scrapping Keystone XL pipeline makes Biden a tribal hero, but villain off reservation," 5 Feb. 2021 But growth on the reservation is expected to stretch the supply of potable water to its limits. Sarah Oven, The Arizona Republic, "Pascua Yaqui win water funds, first of $150 million for Arizona projects," 1 Feb. 2021 Some 10% of Navajos on the reservation reportedly do not have electricity and nearly 40% live without running water. Natalie Chinn, CNN, "The Navajo Nation faces a battle to protect its elders and traditions as Covid-19 deaths spike," 2 Jan. 2021 Some outdoor dining iterations are reservation only with seats, food and drink included with the price, and others are first-come, first-served without an additional cost. Grace Wong,, "Confused about outdoor dining? Here’s a breakdown of the rules and safety guidelines.," 24 Oct. 2020 However, very little of the state is technically a reservation. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "Sequoyah, the U.S. state that almost existed," 25 Aug. 2020 For now, the restaurant will be reservation-only on weekends. Sarah Blaskovich, Dallas News, "Black-owned business in downtown Dallas opens with ‘elevated comfort food’," 21 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reservation.' 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 reservation

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for reservation

Time Traveler

The first known use of reservation was in the 15th century

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Statistics for reservation

Last Updated

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Reservation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for reservation



English Language Learners Definition of reservation

: an arrangement to have something (such as a room, table, or seat) held for your use at a later time
: a feeling of doubt or uncertainty about something
: an area of land in the U.S. that is kept separate as a place for Native Americans to live


res·​er·​va·​tion | \ ˌre-zər-ˈvā-shən How to pronounce reservation (audio) \

Kids Definition of reservation

1 : an act of setting something aside for future use
2 : an arrangement to have something (as seating in a restaurant) held for someone's use
3 : something (as land) set aside for a special use a wildlife reservation
4 : an area of land set aside for American Indians to live
5 : something that limits I can't agree without reservations.



Legal Definition of reservation

1 : the act or an instance of reserving reservation of rights
2 : the creation by and for a grantor of a new right or interest (as an easement) in real property granted to another also : the right or interest so created or the clause creating it in a deed — compare exception
3a : public land reserved for a special purpose (as conservation)
b : a tract of land reserved for use by an American Indian tribe — see also Indian Removal Act of 1830 — compare Indian title at title

Note: The federal government has jurisdiction over certain serious felonies committed on American Indian reservations, and a member of a tribe is vested with the rights of an American citizen even if in a tribal court proceeding. Prior to the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, states could obtain civil and criminal jurisdiction over a reservation or other American Indian lands by legislative action, but that Act created the requirement that such jurisdiction be acquired with the consent of the tribe as manifest in an election among tribal adults. This requirement was not retroactive. Federal land claim settlement acts pertaining to particular states have included statutes expressly assigning civil and criminal jurisdiction to the states involved.

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