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

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 The first two are owned by the sovereign in a trust, and pass directly from monarch to monarch, while the latter is the Queen’s personal property. Jennifer Newman, Town & Country, 17 May 2022 In 1832, the court ruled in Worcester v. Georgia that the state of Georgia could not exercise jurisdiction within Cherokee lands because the Cherokee Nation was a separate sovereign. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 29 June 2022 The cash got trapped after the US Treasury let a sanctions loophole expire, removing an exemption that had allowed US bondholders to receive payments from the Russian sovereign. Giulia Morpurgo, Fortune, 27 June 2022 Georgia is a separate sovereign from the United States. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 14 June 2022 But Charles, 73, sat not on the sovereign’s throne, which had been removed, but on the consort’s throne, which had been used by his father, Prince Philip. Danica Kirka, ajc, 10 May 2022 The Trooping the Color military pageantry has been used to mark the birthday of the British sovereign for more than 260 years, so there were no surprises Thursday, apart from the queen’s initial, unscheduled appearance on the balcony. Mark Landler, BostonGlobe.com, 2 June 2022 The Trooping the Color military pageantry has been used to mark the birthday of the British sovereign for more than 260 years, so there were no surprises on Thursday, apart from the queen’s initial, unscheduled, appearance on the balcony. Mark Landler, New York Times, 2 June 2022 This may be due to their clients all moving money at once, the need to reduce exposure to a certain risk, or the impact of big buyers like central banks and sovereign-wealth funds. Jon Sindreu, WSJ, 19 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective China's ambassador to the United States, Qin Gang, told CNN's John King that Beijing was within its sovereign rights to take action over Pelosi's visit. Brad Lendon, CNN, 2 Aug. 2022 July 31, 2022 Long ignored and underfunded compared to the all-conquering men's game, with its multibillion-dollar TV deals and teams owned by oligarchs and sovereign wealth funds, women's soccer is now getting attention like never before. Patrick Smith, NBC News, 1 Aug. 2022 Russian and separatist forces are trying to take full control of the Donetsk region, one of two eastern provinces that Russia has recognized as sovereign states. Susie Blann, ajc, 30 July 2022 Sloviansk is near the front line of fighting as Russian and separatist forces try to take full control of the Donetsk region, one of two eastern provinces that Russia has recognized as sovereign states. Susie Blann, BostonGlobe.com, 30 July 2022 Over the past two decades, according to Eurodad, half of sovereign debt restructurings have led to litigation, often forcing higher payments than a country can afford. Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, 27 July 2022 Over the past two decades, according to Eurodad, half of sovereign debt restructurings have led to litigation, often forcing higher payments than a country can afford. New York Times, 27 July 2022 China views Taiwan, a sovereign democracy, as part of its territory. Dylan Wells, USA TODAY, 27 July 2022 Other sovereign internet efforts have floundered too. Wired, 26 July 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About sovereign

Time Traveler for sovereign

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near sovereign

sovenance

sovereign

sovereignty

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Statistics for sovereign

Last Updated

26 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sovereign.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sovereign. Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for sovereign

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

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

More from Merriam-Webster on sovereign

Nglish: Translation of sovereign for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sovereign for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sovereign

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