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 From 1997 and 2006, Alabama posted a 67-55 record -- before NCAA sanctions wiped out 16 of those wins -- while cycling between coaches Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione and Mike Shula. Mike Rodak | Mrodak@al.com, al, "Alabama’s lack of quality wins in 2019 harkens back to lean years," 4 Dec. 2019 Iran, meanwhile, began to break the deal’s centrifuges, enrichment and stockpile limitations with hopes of pressuring Europe to offer it a way to sell crude oil abroad despite Washington’s sanctions. Jon Gambrell, chicagotribune.com, "At least 208 people have been killed amid protests in Iran, Amnesty International says," 2 Dec. 2019 Crimea is currently under US trade sanctions, and some tech companies have restricted access for users in the area. Justin Rohrlich, Quartz, "Apple capitulates to the Kremlin, and recognizes Crimea as Russian territory," 28 Nov. 2019 The board also said Plesich fully disclosed his actions, cooperated with the disciplinary proceedings and received criminal sanctions for his misconduct. Robin Goist, cleveland, "Akron attorney suspended for two years for aiding clients’ tax evasion," 27 Nov. 2019 This may also include sanctions related to the school activity/athletic code and WIAA rules/regulations. Alec Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A student was cited after a toy replica gun was recovered from Whitefish Bay High School," 26 Nov. 2019 The decree sparked demonstrations in more than 100 cities across Iran, where the country’s 80 million citizens have already struggled for years under crippling US sanctions. Wired, "Iranian-Americans Struggle to Reach Family Amid Internet Blackout," 20 Nov. 2019 The Southport boys basketball program was hit with major sanctions by the Indiana High School Athletic Association for violations of undue influence, including removal from the 2019-20 tournament. Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star, "Southport barred from boys basketball tourney for recruiting of 6-6 freshman from Congo," 18 Nov. 2019 Or when the dust settles, the NCAA could slap Memphis with violations, fines and sanctions for games Wiseman played in or even postseason bans. Teresa M. Walker, orlandosentinel.com, "Memphis, James Wiseman have 1 more game before eligibility debate goes back to court," 14 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb There are not enough girls wrestling to have the sport officially sanctioned by the CIAC. Lori Riley, courant.com, "Girls wrestling invitational to be offered during State Open," 18 Nov. 2019 Democrats and Republican alike warned Mr. Trump that an American draw-down from the region would effectively sanction a Turkish slaughter of Kurdish groups, which were instrumental in U.S. efforts to eradicate the territorial ISIS caliphate. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, "National security adviser "very concerned" about possible war crimes in Syria during Turkish offensive," 10 Nov. 2019 At times he has been sanctioned, including a $220,000 penalty imposed this year in Bexar Probate Court No. 1. San Antonio Express-News, "November 7, 2019," 7 Nov. 2019 In 1641, Massachusetts became the first colony to officially sanction slavery. BostonGlobe.com, "In our towns, these men, women, and children were enslaved. In Medford, Prince. In Malden, Peter. In Stoneham, Dinah. In Reading, Cuff. In Winchester, Darby Vassell. In Woburn, Violet. In Wilmington, Amos Potamia. In Andover, Stacy. In Concord, Brister.," 26 Sep. 2019 The third debate sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee comes on the heels of a number of polls that put former Vice President Joe Biden ahead of the pack with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders trailing closely behind. Tanya A. Christian, Essence, "These Ten Candidates Are Taking The Stage At The Next HBCU-Held Democratic Debate," 30 Aug. 2019 Though not officially sanctioned by the university, nor the NCAA, tournaments attract sponsors and prizes are awarded to winning teams. Chris Brodeur, courant.com, "UConn Gaming Club bringing esports revolution to Storrs, the Big East and beyond," 12 Sep. 2019 Between 1960 and 1992, South Africa was barred from competing at the Olympic Games while the Springbok rugby, cricket and football teams were barred from World Cups and officially sanctioned international games. Daniel Gallan, CNN, "South Africa: Madagascar joins Zambia in football boycott," 5 Sep. 2019 It was widely thought that Meghan sanctioned, if not outright orchestrated, the story, and the fact that it was published in a celebrity-friendly American magazine was interpreted as a message: The British press is full of bullies. K.j. Yossman, Marie Claire, "Inside the Cutthroat World of Royal Gossips," 5 Sep. 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

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Sanction.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sanctionable. Accessed 7 December 2019.

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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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