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

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

Because alien parents owe allegiance to a different sovereign, the argument goes, their children have no right to citizenship. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Rewriting the Fourteenth Amendment," 30 Oct. 2018 Indeed, according to the official Duchy of Lancaster's website, the reigning sovereign has held the specific title of Duke of Lancaster (never the Duchess of Lancaster) since 1399. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "The Centuries-Old Reason Why Queen Elizabeth Is Also Known as the Duke of Lancaster," 27 Nov. 2018 But the Saudi sovereign has a double-pronged mandate to both increase wealth and create new industries that will boost the government’s non-oil revenues. Rory Jones, WSJ, "In Rare Step, Saudi’s Sovereign-Wealth Fund Raises $11 Billion Loan," 17 Sep. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The bottom was embroidered with a map of the continent's 54 sovereign states. Ana Colón, Glamour, "Beyoncé's Global Citizen Festival 2018 Looks Were Full of Hidden Details," 3 Dec. 2018 Of the 193 sovereign member states of the United Nations, 47—almost one in four—are island nations. Ken Jennings, Condé Nast Traveler, "This New Canal Would Turn Qatar into an Island," 17 Sep. 2018 The Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, just like its embassy in Ankara, is technically Saudi sovereign territory. Alex Ward, Vox, "The weekend in the US-Saudi fight over Jamal Khashoggi, explained," 15 Oct. 2018 Commercial aircraft, precious metals, carpet exports, industrial software, cars and sovereign debt. Fox News, "The unhinged left," 8 Aug. 2018 Many identify with the German Reich of 1871-1918 or assert a form of self-rule similar to the sovereign citizens movement in the United States. Frank Jordans, The Seattle Times, "Germany: Sharp rise in number of anti-government extremists," 24 July 2018 That deal soured when billions of dollars went missing from 1MDB, setting off a multiyear legal battle between sovereign funds in the U.A.E. and Malaysia. Tom Wright, WSJ, "Alleged 1MDB Conspirator Says He Is a Scapegoat for Emiratis," 23 Jan. 2019 Trump transition adviser Erik Prince met the manager of a Russian sovereign wealth fund in Seychelles. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "The mysterious grand jury appeal that may be tied to the Mueller investigation, explained," 19 Dec. 2018 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

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

Share sovereign

Dictionary Entries near sovereign

sov

SOV

sovenance

sovereign

sovereignty

Sovetsk

Sovetskaya Gavan'

Statistics for sovereign

Last Updated

12 Feb 2019

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)

formal : 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)

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

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

grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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!