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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 The queen uses the ceremony for a public celebration of her birthday (she was actually born on April 21), just as a number of sovereigns before her did. Rajpreet Heir, Teen Vogue, "Meghan Markle’s Trooping the Colour Appearance on the Buckingham Palace Balcony Matters," 8 June 2018 The Ford Galaxy nosed in so close to the sovereign's entrance that Harry, Meghan, and their Scotland Yard bodyguard were able to slip inside unnoticed. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "What Really Happened When Meghan Markle Had Tea with the Queen," 16 Apr. 2018 The chapel itself is a masterpiece of the late Gothic style, and Windsor Castle has been home to British sovereigns for nearly 1,000 years. chicagotribune.com, "Royal wedding guests pour into Windsor Castle ahead of nuptials watched 'round the world," 19 May 2018 The chapel itself is a masterpiece of the late Gothic style, and Windsor Castle has been home to British sovereigns for nearly 1,000 years. BostonGlobe.com, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are married in Windsor," 19 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

So Enrique, Mexico has the right to protect their borders, Guatemala has the right to protect their heirs, every country has that inherent right, that sovereign right to control who comes in and know what their intentions are. Fox News, "Ken Starr: Impeachment is hell," 11 Sep. 2018 Moreover, Russia and the US have diametrically opposed perspectives on Ukraine, and, indeed, on what the Kremlin genuinely views as its sovereign right to throw its weight around within its historic sphere of influence. Anna Arutunyan, Time, "No Matter What Happens in Helsinki, Putin Has Already Won," 10 July 2018 Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund is also muscling into the market. Fortune, "This Is London's Hottest Property — Thanks to Amazon," 13 July 2018 The vote in the Irish Parliament follows a recommendation by Norway’s central bank in late 2017 for its $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund to drop its oil company investments. Somini Sengupta, New York Times, "Ireland Moves to Divest From Fossil Fuels," 12 July 2018 Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest of its kind, is worth $1 trillion alone. Washington Post, "6 major wealth funds agree to encourage greener economy," 6 July 2018 The key figure in the fallout with Big3 is Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, a former Qatari diplomat in the U.S. and the former head of Qatar Investments, a $100 billion division of QIA, a sovereign wealth fund. Edvard Pettersson, Bloomberg.com, "Ice Cube's Big3 Investors Seek to End Suit Over Qatar Plot," 20 June 2018 Instead, existing shareholders, including the management team and investors such as Temasek, the Singaporean sovereign fund, and General Atlantic, the private capital firm, are hoping to cash in up to €950 million. Paul J. Davies, WSJ, "Silicon Valley’s Favorite Payments Company Cashes In," 5 June 2018 Brookfield says the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar is playing no role in the Fifth Avenue proposal. David Kocieniewski And Stephanie Baker, chicagotribune.com, "Jared Kushner's tech startup seeking at least $100 million from Saudi-backed fund," 22 May 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sovereign

Dictionary Entries near sovereign

sov

SOV

sovenance

sovereign

sovereignty

Sovetsk

Sovetskaya Gavan'

Statistics for sovereign

Last Updated

19 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sovereign

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on sovereign

What made you want to look up sovereign? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

noxious or harmful

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a-traditional-thanksgiving-dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!