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 decline in Venezuela’s production has steepened since January, when America announced sanctions against PDVSA, its national oil company. The Economist, "OPEC’s predictable deal cannot conceal its long-term difficulties," 3 July 2019 Incomplete sanctions against Italy in 1935-6 failed to persuade Benito Mussolini to back out of his conquest of Ethiopia. Phillip Dehne, Twin Cities, "Phillip Dehne: How World War I transformed economic warfare," 2 July 2019 But Italy has not used its veto power to stop the renewal of European sanctions against Russia, put in place after the Ukraine crisis. Washington Post, "Putin to meet with the pope and Kremlin-friendly politicians in Rome," 2 July 2019 Many Hispanics, particularly, oppose the immigration bill because of its sanctions against employers who hire undocumented workers. San Diego Union-Tribune, "From the Archives: Jesse Jackson led march for immigrants in 1984," 2 July 2019 American negotiators would seek to expand on Mr. Kim’s offer in Hanoi in February to give up the country’s main nuclear-fuel production site, at Yongbyon, in return for the most onerous sanctions against the country being lifted. Michael Crowley, New York Times, "In New Talks, U.S. May Settle for a Nuclear Freeze by North Korea," 30 June 2019 In September 2018, the US imposed sanctions against China for its purchases of Russian military equipment, including the S-400 surface-to-air missile system, under CAATSA legislation. Manveena Suri, Nikhil Kumar And Rishi Iyengar, CNN, "'Great friends are bound to have disagreements': Mike Pompeo soothes trade tensions on India trip," 26 June 2019 Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been high since President Donald Trump decided to pull the US out of a landmark nuclear deal in 2018 and reintroduce sanctions against Iran. SFChronicle.com, "Ship traffic, June 24," 24 June 2019 Huawei was planning to announce a new MateBook laptop this week, but an executive confirmed that the company cancelled the launch because of US sanctions against the Chinese company. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Huawei cancels MateBook laptop launch because of US export ban," 12 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In an effort to clean up the messiness and offer increased exposure to a wider array of talent, the NCAA created sanctioned showcases in partnership with states' high school athletics associations. Robert Rimpson, The Courier-Journal, "NCAA recruiting showcases give Bellarmine and WKU a better shot at prospects," 18 June 2019 Enjoy a night out: Observatory Park is offering free outdoor movies in the area’s only sanctioned dark-sky park. Joan Rusek, cleveland.com, "Laurel student Claire Fedor builds bridges to her future: Valley Views," 7 June 2019 Though not a focus of the Epic 5, times must be reported to USA Triathlon, which sanctions the event, Morgan said. Janene Holzberg, baltimoresun.com, "For Columbia triathlete Suzy Serpico, conquering this challenge was epic," 7 June 2019 But at the very least, the incident highlights – in bright red – the psychic devastation the Trump administration is sanctioning on a daily basis. Benjamin Hart, Daily Intelligencer, "Honduran Man Killed Himself After Being Separated From Family at Border," 9 June 2018 Griffin also sanctioned Pattakos for communicating with reporters at Cleveland Scene magazine and urging them to write about the case. Cory Shaffer, cleveland.com, "Judge doubles award to pair who sued Chagrin Falls nanny school over sex abuse cover-up," 11 June 2019 The only Democratic lawmaker to vote against it was Senator Bernie Sanders, who spoke on the floor of his fear that sanctioning Iran would lead Iran to exit JCPOA. Tyler Bellstrom, The New Republic, "The Biggest Barrier to a Leftist Foreign Policy: Democrats," 11 June 2019 Fifteen percent of respondents want the authority to rest with private conversion courts in Israel (the chief Rabbinate is state-sanctioned), while 7.5 percent want private courts in Israel and abroad to be in charge. Josefin Dolsten, sun-sentinel.com, "Slight majority of Israelis want easier conversion to Judaism process, survey finds," 4 June 2019 More than two dozen states have passed laws opposing a movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel over its treatment of Palestinians—but federal courts are split on whether the laws violate the First Amendment. Michelle Hackman, WSJ, "State Efforts to Quell Israel Boycott Movement Raise Free-Speech Objections," 15 May 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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Statistics for sanction

Last Updated

6 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sanction

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

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More Definitions for sanction

sanction

noun

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

sanction

transitive verb

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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