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 If agreed to by the highest court as well as the Florida Bar, this could stave off the possibility of a meatier sanction such as permanent disbarment. Eileen Kelley, sun-sentinel.com, "A fraud ring was shut down. Then cops say they realized lawyers were in on it.," 8 Oct. 2020 But how the agency has used that sanction captures many flaws of FDA’s clinical trial oversight. Charles Piller, Science | AAAS, "FDA’s own documents reveal agency’s lax, slow, and secretive oversight of clinical research," 1 Oct. 2020 If the veteran fails the rehabilitative treatment program, the court may use the conviction as a sanction and impose the necessary incarceration and/or other punishment. Hank Shea, Star Tribune, "Injured veterans deserve restorative, not punitive, justice," 30 Sep. 2020 The department eventually stopped sending prisoners to Detroit Reentry Center for programming and reduced the number of people who are sent to the prison as a sanction for violating parole. Angie Jackson, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan Department of Corrections to close Detroit prison in January," 22 Sep. 2020 The Judicial Conduct Commission on Wednesday issued the sanction to Circuit Judge Robert B. Conley, who sits in Greenup and Lewis counties, in part for throwing a man in jail for three days for contempt of court without conducting a hearing. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, "A Kentucky Supreme Court candidate has been reprimanded for misconduct," 11 Sep. 2020 Even for higher taxes, and refusing to sanction Communist China. Dallas News, "In new ad GOP’s Genevieve Collins casts rival Colin Allred as tool of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi," 23 Sep. 2020 The European Union’s plan to sanction officials responsible for falsifying the election and cracking down on protests has been stalled by Cyprus for unrelated reasons. Robyn Dixon, Washington Post, "As Belarus’s Lukashenko cracks down harder, protesters regroup and fight on," 19 Sep. 2020 The Ohio Supreme Court’s justices will ultimately decide what, if any, sanction to impose on Carr. Cory Shaffer, cleveland, "Cleveland judge should be disciplined for issuing arrest warrants at onset of coronavirus pandemic and falsely denying it, complaint says," 16 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Sturgeon has pledged to hold a second independence referendum ever since Britain decided to withdraw from the European Union -- a move Scotland opposed -- but the U.K. government has refused to sanction one. Alastair Reed, Bloomberg.com, "Scotland Plans to Ramp Up Pressure for Independence Referendum," 1 Sep. 2020 In statements there, Maas criticized the threat by Republican senators to sanction the German port helping finish the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which, if completed, could as much as double Russia’s natural gas shipments directly to Germany. Washington Post, "Kremlin rejects Navalny poisoning diagnosis in Germany as calls grow for probe," 25 Aug. 2020 The audit will be sent to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and federal officials will decide whether to sanction the state for misspending, White said. Emily Wagster Pettus, The Denver Post, "Brett Favre repaying $1.1 M for no-show speeches, auditor says," 6 May 2020 Bell asked people to avoid confrontations and said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration could sanction businesses for not following guidelines. Sabrina Thompson, oregonlive, "Coronavirus outbreak hits Grande Ronde Hospital workers; Union County sheriff says he won’t cite church for gatherings," 3 July 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

17 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sanction.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sanction. Accessed 23 Oct. 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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