sovereign

noun
sov·​er·​eign | \ ˈsä-v(ə-)rən, -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, -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

The emirate of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates and Oman are among sovereigns that have raised funds via bonds so far this year, while Saudi Arabia is said to have selected banks to help manage an offering as soon as this month. Arif Sharif, Bloomberg.com, "Dubai's Emirates Airline Set to Raise $600 Million in Sukuk Sale," 16 Mar. 2018 First, a special counsel will gather at St. James Palace in Westminster to handle the process of accession, when a new sovereign takes the throne upon the death of the previous king or queen. Rose Minutaglio, Town & Country, "This Is What Prince Charles's Coronation Will Be Like," 27 July 2018 Yields on dollar sovereigns rose while local note yields fell. Justin Villamil, Bloomberg.com, "Election Risks Loom Over Latin American Sovereign Bonds in 2018," 8 Jan. 2018 Although unusual, other sovereigns such as Temasek also have taken on debt. Maureen Farrell, WSJ, "Saudi Arabia Goes High-Tech in Approach to Investing," 15 Aug. 2018 Look, the Middle East investors, the sovereigns and a lot of these folks, are the capital behind the capital. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Wearables pioneer Jawbone is back with a new mission: Warning you about health problems you didn’t know you had," 26 Sep. 2018 Besides sovereigns like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Sharjah Islamic Bank, Oman Telecommunications Co. and Noor Bank PJSC are among those waiting to access capital in the next few weeks, people familiar with the matter have said. Archana Narayanan, Bloomberg.com, "Damac Hires Barclays, HSBC for Possible Sukuk Sale," 1 Apr. 2018 Elizabeth Meaning: Pledged to God Origin: Hebrew Royal connection: The tribute to the Queen is obvious here, as the sovereign's full name is Elizabeth Alexandra Mary. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Zara Tindall's New Baby Girl Has So Many Royal Connections in Her Name," 27 June 2018 Subjects believe sovereigns receive their power, in the first instance, by grace. Michael Joseph Gross, Vanities, "“There’s Nothing Wrong with Falling from Grace”: The Global Network of Monarchists Helping Deposed Kings and Queens," 27 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Layrisson said Guidry had been under investigation in Louisiana because of his involvement in the sovereign citizen movement. Judy L. Thomas, kansascity, "Sovereign citizen, 'domestic extremist' arrested in Louisiana on Missouri warrant | The Kansas City Star," 9 Mar. 2018 In his view, America is a sovereign country with the right to define and defend its borders and to determine who is allowed to enter. Robert King, Indianapolis Star, "For Indiana's most visible Dreamer, the future never looked more uncertain," 4 Mar. 2018 This digital currency, or cryptocurrencies, is not sovereign script or coinage. Michael C. Dealoia, cleveland.com, "Cleveland-area entrepreneurs are pouring resources into new-currency technolgoy: Tech Czar Talk," 25 Feb. 2018 Authorities have rolled out, or are mulling, new measures after steps in March failed to revive demand for sovereign bonds. Subhadip Sircar, Bloomberg.com, "India Seeks to Jump Start Debt Demand Again as Borrowings Loom," 18 June 2018 The cost of insuring South Korea’s sovereign bonds against non-payment fell 1.75 basis points to 44.75 basis points as of 6:10 p.m. in Seoul, Barclays Plc prices showed. Fortune, "'Korean War to End!' Trump Hails 2 Koreas' Deal to Pursue Denuclearization," 27 Apr. 2018 Congress also asked Treasury to analyze how sanctions would affect Russia’s sovereign bonds, which could increase borrowing costs and devalue the ruble. Carol Morello, Washington Post, "White House says there’s no need for new Russia sanctions," 29 Jan. 2018 The sovereign actually just left for her country home today. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why Duchess Camilla Didn't Attend the Queen's Christmas Luncheon at Buckingham Palace," 20 Dec. 2018 Most evangelical Christians believe that God is sovereign. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "Historian and author John Fea on Trump’s “court evangelicals” and the long history of Christian nationalism.," 5 Nov. 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near sovereign

sov

SOV

sovenance

sovereign

sovereignty

Sovetsk

Sovetskaya Gavan'

Statistics for sovereign

Last Updated

15 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sovereign

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

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More Definitions for sovereign

sovereign

noun

English Language Learners Definition of sovereign

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a king or queen

: a British gold coin that was used in the past

sovereign

adjective

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

: having unlimited power or authority

: not limited

: having independent authority and the right to govern itself

sovereign

noun
sov·​er·​eign | \ ˈsä-və-rən, 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 \

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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