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 federal agencies with the authority to sanction unproven claims, the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration, appear to have done little to rein in either manufacturers or practitioners. NBC News, "Patients pay thousands for back pain treatment — with little scientific evidence that it works," 18 Nov. 2020 The four had urged foreign governments to sanction China and Hong Kong over Beijing’s crackdown on dissent in the territory. Zen Soo, The Christian Science Monitor, "With resignations, Hong Kong democracy movement hangs in balance," 12 Nov. 2020 The four had urged foreign governments to sanction China and Hong Kong as China cracked down on dissent in the semi-autonomous Chinese city. Fox News, "Hong Kong pro-democracy legislators hand in resignations," 12 Nov. 2020 The move led observers to question whether Facebook had tweaked its algorithms to sanction conservative publishers, including some that have been known to spread misinformation. Washington Post, "‘Stop the Steal’ supporters, restrained by Facebook, turn to Parler to peddle false election claims," 10 Nov. 2020 The sanction by the OCC -- which some analysts anticipated would be booked later -- contributed to a 5% jump in expenses to $11 billion in the third quarter. Jennifer Surane, Bloomberg.com, "Citi Posts Biggest Quarterly Profit of Pandemic," 13 Oct. 2020 The Raiders also lost a sixth-round draft pick for Covid-19 protocol violations and are appealing the sanction, the NFL Network reported. NBC News, "Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield on Covid-19 reserve," 8 Nov. 2020 The latest sanction bans global semiconductor companies that use American software and machinery from supplying Huawei without first obtaining a license to do so. Sherisse Pham, CNN, "Huawei's sales growth slows as US sanctions bite," 23 Oct. 2020 Russian state nationals accused of wielding life-threatening malware specifically designed to tamper with critical safety mechanisms at a petrochemical plant are now under sanction by the US Treasury Department. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Hackers behind life-threatening attack on chemical-maker are sanctioned," 23 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated the U.S. position that the embargo remains in effect – and warned that the U.S. will sanction any company that sells arms to Tehran. Howard Lafranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, "Why Iran is poised to make a comeback ... as a US priority," 20 Oct. 2020 China will sanction several U.S. defense contractors after the State Department approved a $1.8 billion arms sale to Taiwan. Tyler Van Dyke, Washington Examiner, "China to sanction US defense firms for supplying weapons to Taiwan," 26 Oct. 2020 While authorities in most countries simply turn a blind eye, some legal systems sanction the persecution. Joseph Prezioso, National Geographic, "Witch hunt tourism is lucrative. It also obscures a tragic history," 23 Oct. 2020 Among the other recent lawsuits against Hull Caballero is one filed Oct. 6 on behalf of Iannarone’s campaign in objection to the auditor’s decision to not sanction Wheeler for loaning his own campaign $150,000 last month. oregonlive, "City of Portland lawyers won’t defend auditor in legal appeals of mayor’s campaign violations, City Council says," 15 Oct. 2020 The action relies on an executive order Trump issued in January giving Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mnuchin broad authority to sanction any part of Iran’s economy. John Hudson, Anchorage Daily News, "U.S. imposes sanctions on Iran in defiance of Europe’s humanitarian objections," 8 Oct. 2020 The charges were announced late Monday and follow an attempt to sanction him by the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission. Justin Fenton, baltimoresun.com, "Feds indict Baltimore malpractice lawyer Stephen Snyder, alleging he extorted UMMS transplant unit," 5 Oct. 2020 The case hinged on questions raised by the state Republican Party, which brought the lawsuit, arguing that the state constitution doesn’t sanction the kind of borrowing the new law authorizes to meet general operations expenses in the state budget. USA TODAY, "Mayflower II, Space Camp saved, Oglala Sioux Tribe: News from around our 50 states," 7 Aug. 2020 Azteca Henry wants a San Antonio court to sanction her longtime partner, San Antonio personal-injury lawyer Thomas J. Henry, for disclosing her and her children’s Social Security numbers and other personal information in an court filing. ExpressNews.com, "Express Briefing: Landlords sue S.A. businesses over rent during pandemic," 4 Sep. 2020

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

22 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sanction.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sanction. Accessed 27 Nov. 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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