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 But negotiations faltered after the United States rejected North Korean demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of the North’s nuclear capabilities at Kim’s second summit with Trump in Vietnam in February. Author: Kim Tong-hyung, Anchorage Daily News, "North Korea conducts another test at long-range rocket site," 14 Dec. 2019 The announcement came after months of frustration over the South’s unwillingness to defy U.S.-led sanctions and restart South Korean tours to the resort, which was suspended in 2008 after a North Korean guard fatally shot a South Korean tourist. Washington Post, "North Korea opens new mountain resort amid tourism drive," 9 Dec. 2019 The announcement came after months of frustration over the South’s unwillingness to defy U.S.-led sanctions and restart South Korean tours to the resort, which were suspended in 2008 after a North Korean guard fatally shot a South Korean tourist. Kim Tong-hyung, USA TODAY, "North Korea opens ski resort, mountain spa in tourism push," 9 Dec. 2019 Nuclear negotiations faltered after a February meeting between Trump and Kim in Vietnam broke down when the U.S. side rejected North Korean demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities. Kim Tong-hyung, SFChronicle.com, "North Korea derides Trump as ‘erratic’ as nuclear talks remain stalled," 9 Dec. 2019 Of the remainder, about 24% preferred the use of economic sanctions. Olga Kamenchuk, The Conversation, "American influence could take the hit as Putin, Zelenskiy try to make peace in Ukraine," 6 Dec. 2019 But their nuclear diplomacy has remained largely deadlocked since their second meeting in Vietnam in February ended without any deal due to disputes over U.S.-led sanctions on North Korea. Arkansas Online, "North Korea threatens to resume calling Trump 'dotard'," 5 Dec. 2019 Seoul can't restart inter-Korean economic activities without defying U.S.-led international sanctions against Pyongyang, which have been strengthened since 2016 when the North began speeding up its nuclear and missile tests. Kim Tong-hyung, chicagotribune.com, "Kim orders South’s buildings at resort in North be destroyed," 23 Oct. 2019 In addition to economic sanctions, the U.S. designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. Ved Nanda, The Denver Post, "Nanda: It’s not too late to preserve the Iran deal with diplomacy," 18 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The levied fees are largely seen as state-sanctioned especially as the powerful transport unions enjoy significant political backing in Nigeria’s economic hub. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "Bike-hailing companies are paying a heavy price in bribes and levies to operate in Lagos," 16 Dec. 2019 The company has already sanctioned projects that would increase its renewable capacity to 5,600 MW. Benjamin Storrow, Scientific American, "Can A Big Oil Company Go Carbon-Free?," 6 Dec. 2019 The school was determined to sanction a teachers’ union, becoming only the second New Orleans charter to do so. Andrea Gabor, Harper's magazine, "The K-12 Takeover," 28 Oct. 2019 The club expect that a bid of €15m will convince the Gunners to sanction the permanent sale of the man in question. SI.com, "AC Milan to Move for Arsenal's Mohamed Elneny in January as Wolves Eye Franck Kessie," 14 Oct. 2019 However, Cincinnati officials did not sanction the move, the development group acknowledged. Randy Tucker, Cincinnati.com, "3CDC accused of violating CityBeat's First Amendment rights by seizing newspaper distribution boxes," 19 June 2019 State sanctioned raped happened under the Khmer Rouge. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kylie Jenner's Handmaid's Tale Party Sends a Terrifying Message," 12 June 2019 Members of the Québec national assembly recently threatened to complain to the legislature’s speaker and have Catherine Dorion sanctioned when the Québec Solidaire politician entered the chamber wearing an orange wool hoodie. Arnaud Montreuil, Quartz at Work, "Is the world ready for politicians to dress in workplace casual?," 20 Nov. 2019 New Orleans’ French Quarter, especially Bourbon Street (though open cocktail cups in hand is not sanctioned here). Christopher Smith, Orange County Register, "Getting grand at San Diego’s U.S. Grant," 31 Oct. 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

21 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Sanction.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sanctioned. Accessed 18 January 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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