sovereign

noun
sov·​er·​eign | \ ˈsä-v(ə-)rən How to pronounce sovereign (audio) , -vərn also ˈsə- \
variants: or less commonly sovran

Definition of sovereign

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : one possessing or held to possess supreme political power or sovereignty
b : one that exercises supreme authority within a limited sphere
c : an acknowledged leader : arbiter
2 : any of various gold coins of the United Kingdom

sovereign

adjective
sov·​er·​eign | \ ˈsä-v(ə-)rən How to pronounce sovereign (audio) , -vərn also ˈsə- \
variants: or less commonly sovran

Definition of sovereign (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : superlative in quality
b : of the most exalted kind : supreme sovereign virtue
c : having generalized curative powers a sovereign remedy
d : of an unqualified nature : unmitigated sovereign contempt
e : having undisputed ascendancy : paramount
2a : possessed of supreme power a sovereign ruler
b : unlimited in extent : absolute
c : enjoying autonomy : independent sovereign states
3 : relating to, characteristic of, or befitting a supreme ruler : royal a sovereign right

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Other Words from sovereign

Adjective

sovereignly adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for sovereign

Adjective

free, independent, sovereign, autonomous mean not subject to the rule or control of another. free stresses the complete absence of external rule and the full right to make all of one's own decisions. you're free to do as you like independent implies a standing alone; applied to a state it implies lack of connection with any other having power to interfere with its citizens, laws, or policies. the colony's struggle to become independent sovereign stresses the absence of a superior power and implies supremacy within a thing's own domain or sphere. separate and sovereign armed services autonomous stresses independence in matters pertaining to self-government. in this denomination each congregation is regarded as autonomous

Sovereign Power

Adjective

Sovereign has everything to do with power. It often describes a person who has supreme power or authority, such as a king or queen. God is described as "sovereign" in a number of Bible translations. In addition to describing ones who have power, the word sovereign also often describes power: to have sovereign power is to have absolute power—that is, power that cannot be checked by anyone or anything. Nations and states are also sometimes described as "sovereign." This means that they have power over themselves; their government is under their own control, rather than under the control of an outside authority.

Sovereign can also be a synonym of supreme as in "of the most exalted kind." In that case, the power is figurative rather than literal.

Examples of sovereign in a Sentence

Noun Ricky Martin, sovereign of Latin pop culture, is back. — Raquel Cepeda, Vibe, May 1999 During these two centuries the throne of Scotland was occupied by no more than seven sovereigns of only four different generations. — G. W. S. Barrow, The Anglo-Norman Era In Scottish History, 1980 after the current sovereign dies, the monarchy may be abolished Adjective Local officials and a huge and enthusiastic crowd greeted Napoleon at the Portoferraio harbor. The Allies had granted him the title of Emperor of Elba, which was to be a sovereign state under his jurisdiction. — David Pryce-Jones, National Review, 4 July 2005 If Cleopatra VII used her own personality more like Elizabeth I than Elizabeth II, she seems to have had the latter Elizabeth's sovereign sense of duty—as well as her fertility: With a dispatch usually associated with the gods, Cleopatra bore Caesar a son called Caesarion—"little Caesar"—in 47 B.C.E., the year after they met (she was twenty-one, he fifty-two). — Ingrid D. Rowland, New Republic, 1 & 8 April 2002 the sovereign power of a king The government's sovereign duty is to protect the rights of its citizens.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun An American-British member of an advisory body to China’s sovereign-wealth fund has stepped down from her post due to concerns over Chinese restrictions on free speech, including Beijing’s controversial new national-security law for Hong Kong. Julie Steinberg And Dan Strumpf, WSJ, "Hong Kong Security Law Prompts Departure of China Fund Adviser," 13 July 2020 Barbecue, of course, was a thing long before the British colonists ever thought about declaring independence from their sovereign. Adrian Miller, Fortune, "If you barbecue on July 4th, you’re building on a Black American legacy," 3 July 2020 This has driven the Jordanian sovereign, King Abdullah, into a corner. Jomana Karadsheh And Ghazi Balkiz, CNN, "Why West Bank annexation poses an existential threat to Jordan," 1 July 2020 Making matters worse, Pires handed the court a letter from the Portuguese sovereign, King Manuel I, that the Chinese found impertinent. Michael Schuman, The Atlantic, "When China Met the West," 6 June 2020 At this stage, while there’s no significant impact on the credit profiles of sovereigns, there was an important warning. Bloomberg.com, "Global Security ‘Excuse’ Inflames Europe to Asia: Tariffs Update," 1 Mar. 2018 In my view, the tribes either are or are not separate sovereigns. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "Is the Supreme Court Scared of Tribal Sovereignty?," 12 May 2020 The couple reign like benign yet captive sovereigns over their islet. David Zweig, New York Times, "They Were the Last Couple in Paradise. Now Their Resort Life Continues.," 5 Apr. 2020 This doom loop supposedly can be broken only with a new round of regulations of bank balance sheets to free them from financial dependence on their sovereigns. Joseph C. Sternberg, WSJ, "Italy’s ‘Doom Loops,’ Imagined and Real," 3 Jan. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In the most recent deal, Jio Platforms announced that Saudi Arabia's sovereign fund will invest $1.5 billion for a 2.3% stake in the company. Grady Mcgregor, Fortune, "11 deals for $15 billion in 10 weeks: Why India’s Jio Platforms is on an investment spree," 20 June 2020 And gold prices hit their all-time high in 2011 after Standard & Poor's downgraded the United States' credit rating, amid market jitters about Europe's sovereign debt crisis. Paul R. La Monica, CNN, "Gold tops $1,800 and hits highest level since 2011," 7 July 2020 Mustang drivers recognize their sovereign ruler and genuflect accordingly. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, "How the Mustang Shelby GT500 Saved the Fourth of July," 4 July 2020 Early Americans expected that while each branch would be sovereign and independent of the other, there would also be collaboration, cooperation, and interdependence to carry out the people’s work. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Elena Kagan’s Fiery Defense of the Administrative State," 2 July 2020 In recent weeks, the highly indebted Lebanon defaulted for the first time on its sovereign debt and began talks with the International Monetary Fund for assistance while a liquidity crunch deepened. Washington Post, "Lebanese major retailers to shut down amid economic crisis," 2 July 2020 The new world will see more reliance on the artist-mind, reconsideration of the relationship between space and wellbeing, and a contraction of sovereign frontlines. Quartz Staff, Quartz, "Nabila Alibhai says exercising imagination makes us more resilient post-Covid," 30 June 2020 With sovereign borrowing costs historically low, such approaches may look tempting as the bills rack up fast. David Goodman, Bloomberg.com, "Europe’s Debt Reckoning May Mean Tough Choices on Who to Tax," 17 June 2020 Some lawyers for the cities and counties have privately suggested a nationwide payout ranging from $25 billion to $50 billion for all the plaintiffs — including the tribes, which are sovereign nations. Washington Post, "Despair in Indian country," 29 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sovereign.' 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 sovereign

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for sovereign

Noun

Middle English soverain, from Anglo-French soverein, from soverein, adjective — see sovereign entry 2

Adjective

Middle English soverain, from Anglo-French soverein, from Vulgar Latin *superanus, from Latin super over, above — more at over

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Time Traveler for sovereign

Time Traveler

The first known use of sovereign was in the 13th century

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Statistics for sovereign

Last Updated

25 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sovereign.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sovereign. Accessed 3 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for sovereign

sovereign

noun
How to pronounce sovereign (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sovereign

 (Entry 1 of 2)

formal : a king or queen
: a British gold coin that was used in the past

sovereign

adjective
How to pronounce sovereign (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sovereign (Entry 2 of 2)

formal
: having unlimited power or authority
: not limited
: having independent authority and the right to govern itself

sovereign

noun
sov·​er·​eign | \ ˈsä-və-rən How to pronounce sovereign (audio) , ˈsä-vrən \

Kids Definition of sovereign

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a person (as a king or queen) having the highest power and authority
2 : an old British gold coin

sovereign

adjective

Kids Definition of sovereign (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : highest in power or authority a sovereign ruler
2 : having independent authority a sovereign state
3 : of the most important kind a sovereign duty

sovereign

adjective
sov·​er·​eign | \ ˈsäv-(ə-)rən How to pronounce sovereign (audio) \

Medical Definition of sovereign

: having generalized curative powers a sovereign remedy

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sovereign

noun
sov·​er·​eign | \ ˈsä-vrən, ˈsə-, -və-rən \

Legal Definition of sovereign

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person or political entity (as a nation or state) possessing or held to possess sovereignty the doctrine that a sovereign could not be sued without its consent was universal in the States when the Constitution was draftedAlden v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706 (1999) — see also sovereign immunity at immunity

sovereign

adjective

Legal Definition of sovereign (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : having supreme power a sovereign ruler
2 : enjoying autonomy sovereign states
3 : relating to, characteristic of, or befitting a sovereign

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Comments on sovereign

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