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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web To the Siona people on the Buenavista reservation, oil drilling is an assault, akin to draining blood from the earth. Sarah Hurtes,, 10 Aug. 2022 The Cherokee Nation reservation is 7,000 square miles, almost the size of New Jersey. Dateline Nbc, NBC News, 10 Aug. 2022 Kelly and Yuma Sector Border Patrol Chief Chris Clem talked about the likely possibility that migrants and asylum seekers will adapt to the closure of the gaps and present themselves on or near the reservation where there is no border wall. José Ignacio Castañeda Perez, The Arizona Republic, 10 Aug. 2022 About 12 miles of the line pass through the reservation. Laura Schulte, Journal Sentinel, 9 Aug. 2022 The 1974 novel follows a young Native American man living on a Montana reservation searching for a connection to his ancestors’ lands while struggling with a haunting personal tragedy. Dorany Pineda, Los Angeles Times, 9 Aug. 2022 There's no reservation required, no long lines, and no charge for the session itself. Lexie Sachs, Good Housekeeping, 9 Aug. 2022 Lopez-Carmen can trace his exposure to activism back to his early childhood on the Pascua Yaqui reservation, attending its Boys and Girls Club while his mother worked for the tribe's Yoemem Tekia Foundation. Amanda Su, ABC News, 9 Aug. 2022 The 3,800-member tribe, whose reservation is located on both sides of the Colorado, dedicates about 1,250 of its 6,350 acre-feet Arizona allocation to sustaining the wetlands., 8 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of reservation

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Last Updated

13 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Reservation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for reservation


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 tribes of indigenous people to live and govern
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.

More from Merriam-Webster on reservation

Nglish: Translation of reservation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of reservation for Arabic Speakers


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