sanction

noun
sanc·​tion | \ ˈsaŋ(k)-shən How to pronounce sanction (audio) \

Definition of sanction

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a formal decree especially : an ecclesiastical decree
2a obsolete : a solemn agreement : oath
b : something that makes an oath binding
3 : the detriment, loss of reward, or coercive intervention annexed to a violation of a law as a means of enforcing the law
4a : a consideration, principle, or influence (as of conscience) that impels to moral action or determines moral judgment
b : a mechanism of social control for enforcing a society's standards
c : explicit or official approval, permission, or ratification : approbation
5 : an economic or military coercive measure adopted usually by several nations in concert for forcing a nation violating international law to desist or yield to adjudication

sanction

verb
sanctioned; sanctioning\ ˈsaŋ(k)-​sh(ə-​)niŋ How to pronounce sanctioning (audio) \

Definition of sanction (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to make valid or binding usually by a formal procedure (such as ratification)
2 : to give effective or authoritative approval or consent to … such characters … look, talk, and act in ways sanctioned by society and novelistic tradition …— Lawrence Chua
3a : to attach a sanction or penalty to the violation of (a right, obligation, or command) … the status, procedures, rights, and duties of members are carefully defined by rules that are sanctioned by fines should they be contravened by members.— Malcolm Ruel
b : to impose a sanction or penalty upon … a Long Island brokerage firm that, at the time, had serious Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC fraud charges pending against it and has since been heavily fined and sanctioned.— Molly Ivins

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Other Words from sanction

Verb

sanctionable \ ˈsaŋ(k)-​sh(ə-​)nə-​bəl How to pronounce sanctionable (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for sanction

Verb

approve, endorse, sanction, accredit, certify mean to have or express a favorable opinion of. approve often implies no more than this but may suggest considerable esteem or admiration. the parents approve of the marriage endorse suggests an explicit statement of support. publicly endorsed her for Senator sanction implies both approval and authorization. the President sanctioned covert operations accredit and certify usually imply official endorsement attesting to conformity to set standards. the board voted to accredit the college must be certified to teach

Sanction Has Legal Origins

Verb

Sanction can also be a noun meaning "authoritative approval" or "a coercive measure." The noun entered English first, in the 15th century, and originally referred to a formal decree, especially an ecclesiastical decree. (The Latin sancire, meaning "to make holy," is an ancestor.) By the end of the 17th century, the meaning of the noun "sanction" had extended to refer to both a means of enforcing a law (a sense that in the 20th century we began using especially for economic penalties against nations violating international law) and the process of formally approving or ratifying a law. When the verb "sanction" appeared in the 18th century, it had to do with ratifying laws as well. Soon it had also acquired an additional, looser sense: "to approve."

Examples of sanction in a Sentence

Noun The country acted without the sanction of the other nations. Their policy has legal sanction. Verb The government has sanctioned the use of force. His actions were not sanctioned by his superiors.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The operation, named Petrozamora SA, is operating with no company-specific sanctions in the Maracaibo region that helped establish Venezuela as an oil power in the 20th century. Peter Millard, Bloomberg.com, "Two Ex-Gazprom Executives Help Venezuela Keep Oil Flowing," 7 May 2020 The bureau knew the issue of sanctions had been discussed. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "The FBI Set Flynn Up to Preserve the Trump–Russia Probe," 2 May 2020 Oklahoma State star Barry Sanders had turned pro after winning the Heisman Trophy in 1988, but the NFL allowed him into the draft because the Cowboys were hit with NCAA sanctions. Creg Stephenson | Cstephenson@al.com, al, "Keith McCants’ road from No. 1 NFL draft prospect to cautionary tale," 22 Apr. 2020 The rules of business are often enforced with sanctions of some kind. Art Markman, Fortune, "Why you’re mad as hell about the Astros, but not Wells Fargo," 4 Mar. 2020 While the cycle seemed to end there, high tensions remain between the two sides, with Trump's tight economic sanctions still in place. Conor Finnegan, ABC News, "Touring US troops to Saudi Arabia, Pompeo touts 'maximum pressure' on Iran amid heightened tensions," 20 Feb. 2020 Were Biden’s principle of climate sanctions applied for all fossil fuels out of step with Paris Agreement goals (to which Biden pledged to recommit), such a rule would almost certainly place a major damper on U.S. fossil fuel production. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "Is Joe Biden a Climate Radical Now?," 18 Jan. 2020 Trump combined toothless belligerence with economic sanctions designed to destroy Iran’s economy and weaken its regime, similar to his approach to North Korea but without the alternating eruptions of insult and bonhomie. Steven Simon, The New York Review of Books, "The Middle East: Trump Blunders In," 16 Jan. 2020 Also important: Sanders is the only candidate on stage to have voted against moving forward with Iran sanctions and save the nuclear deal in 2017. Leora Yashari, refinery29.com, "Liz Vs. Bernie: Everything That Happened In The January Democratic Debate," 15 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The event, organized by parents in lieu of the in-person graduation canceled by the new coronavirus, was not sanctioned by Mesa's school district. Lily Altavena, azcentral, "Parade with hundreds of cars salutes Mesa Mountain View grads," 17 May 2020 Her assessment of the influx was backed up in separate interviews with a homeless outreach worker and a fire paramedic, neither of whom wanted to be identified because they were not sanctioned to speak for the city. Phil Matier, SFChronicle.com, "SF a magnet for homeless seeking free hotel rooms during coronavirus pandemic," 3 May 2020 When she was sanctioned by the US Treasury Department for the regime's human rights abuses and extreme censorship activities, it was listed as September 26, 1989. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, "What Kim Yo Jong's rise to the top says -- and doesn't say -- about being a woman in North Korea," 2 May 2020 The competitions are sanctioned by the International Bar-B-Que Cookers Association. John Delapp, Houston Chronicle, "Charlie Daniels, Little Texas to play at Alvin festival," 10 Mar. 2020 That means anyone outside the United States engaging in any action, any activity with [Rosneft Trading] … runs the risk of being sanctioned themselves. Washington Post, "Trump administration targets Russian company for allegedly helping Venezuela export oil," 18 Feb. 2020 It was sanctioned at an estimated cost of 76.92 lakhs, with 90% funding from the central government (National Fisheries Development Board) and 10% from the state government (Karnataka State Fisheries Department). Supriya Vohra, Quartz India, "“There is no fish in the ocean”: The future has arrived in this Indian fishing village," 18 Feb. 2020 Casey was sanctioned by a federal judge in 2016 after making sensational allegations about Anthony's guilt in her bankruptcy case then skipping several depositions, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Hunter Field, Arkansas Online, "New bid to enter Biden case filed," 28 Dec. 2019 Gottwald is asking the court to hold Geragos and his firm in contempt, sanction them and refer them to the California bar for disciplinary proceedings. Ashley Cullins, Billboard, "Dr. Luke Accuses Mark Geragos of Perjury in Kesha Legal Fight," 20 Nov. 2019

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

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1778, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sanction

Noun

Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin sanction-, sanctio, from sancire to make holy — more at sacred

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Time Traveler for sanction

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for sanction

Last Updated

10 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sanction.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sanction. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for sanction

sanction

noun
How to pronounce sanction (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sanction

 (Entry 1 of 2)

formal
: an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country, etc.
: official permission or approval

sanction

verb

English Language Learners Definition of sanction (Entry 2 of 2)

formal : to officially accept or allow (something)

sanction

noun
sanc·​tion | \ ˈsaŋk-shən How to pronounce sanction (audio) \

Kids Definition of sanction

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : official approval or permission The soldiers' conduct did not have the king's sanction.
2 : an action (as the ending of financial aid) taken by one or more nations to make another nation comply with a law or rule

sanction

verb
sanctioned; sanctioning

Kids Definition of sanction (Entry 2 of 2)

: to officially accept or allow The coaches sanctioned the new rule.

sanction

noun
sanc·​tion | \ ˈsaŋk-shən How to pronounce sanction (audio) \

Legal Definition of sanction

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a punitive or coercive measure or action that results from failure to comply with a law, rule, or order a sanction for contempt
2 : explicit or official approval
3 : an economic or military coercive measure adopted usually by several nations in concert for forcing a nation violating international law to desist or yield to adjudication

Legal Definition of sanction (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to give official approval or consent to : ratify
2 : to impose a sanction on sanctioned the lawyer for professional misconduct

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Comments on sanction

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