res·​er·​va·​tion ˌre-zər-ˈvā-shən How to pronounce reservation (audio)
: an act of reserving something: such as
: the act or fact of a grantor's reserving some newly created thing out of the thing granted
: the right or interest so reserved
: the setting of limiting conditions or withholding from complete exposition
answered without reservation
: an arrangement to have something (such as a hotel room) held for one's use
also : a promise, guarantee, or record of such engagement
: a limiting condition
agreed, but with reservations
: doubt, misgiving
had serious reservations about marriage
: something reserved: such as
: a tract of public land set aside (as for use by American Indians)
: an area in which hunting is not permitted
especially : one set aside as a secure breeding place
reservationist noun

Example Sentences

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 Raised on the Broken Rock Reservation, Monica has served as a teacher both on the reservation and at the state university. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, 14 Nov. 2022 That is out of a population of more than 5,000 voting-age Hopis on the reservation, according to the Hopi Enrollment Office. Stan Bindell, The Arizona Republic, 6 Nov. 2022 Some 300 families who had been traveling under his protection with him were resettled on a reservation. Pekka Hämäläinen, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 Nov. 2022 While not federally recognized, the small group, which consists of about 300 within the tribal territory, has its own small community on a reservation. Alexis Cubit, The Courier-Journal, 16 Sep. 2022 There were further talks, Oren told me, that the United States government was planning on building some sort of military base there on the reservation and that the speech also foiled the plans. Jazz Tangcay, Variety, 13 Sep. 2022 About 1,800 members live on the reservation and the nation has a total population of around 3,400 people, according to its website. Elizabeth Wolfe, CNN, 8 Sep. 2022 To many of our neighbors on the reservation, access to the internet is not a luxury. Wes Siler, Outside Online, 24 Aug. 2022 There was cause for that concern, considering all of the nearby childcare centers on the reservation had a waitlist. Cassandra Robertson, The New Republic, 11 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.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near reservation

Cite this Entry

“Reservation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



res·​er·​va·​tion ˌrez-ər-ˈvā-shən How to pronounce reservation (audio)
: the act of reserving
: an arrangement to have something (as a motel room or a seat on a plane) held for one's use
: something reserved for a special use
especially : an area of public lands so reserved (as for use by American Indians)
: a limiting condition : exception
agree without reservations
: doubt entry 2 sense 1
had reservations about joining the team

Legal Definition



: the act or an instance of reserving
reservation of rights
: 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
: public land reserved for a special purpose (as conservation)
: 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

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