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 After working for an arm of Qatar’s sovereign-wealth fund, Tuchel now had the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich as his boss. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, 29 May 2021 So far, the currency’s true believers are exhibiting impressive levels of coping, trying to rationalize their sovereign’s confusion. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, 13 May 2021 Luminus, which invests on behalf of institutions including sovereign-wealth and pension funds, is shrinking rather than shutting down. Joe Wallace, WSJ, 29 Apr. 2021 The Household Cavalry and Foot Guards who protect the sovereign will also be present. Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, 17 Apr. 2021 The Two Popes’ Jonathan Pryce will portray Prince Philip, alongside new sovereign Imelda Staunton, in The Crown’s upcoming fifth and sixth season, which is set to arrive in 2022. Halle Kiefer, Vulture, 10 Apr. 2021 But part of the ceremony includes ritual humiliation: As Black Rod approaches the House chamber, the doors are slammed in her face, to symbolize the Commons' independence of the sovereign. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, 11 May 2021 Neither Facebook nor Apple should be trusted as a benevolent sovereign to guide the direction of the internet or digital communications. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, 26 Apr. 2021 The Saudi sovereign-wealth fund is also a large investor in Lucid, which had an undisclosed commitment to build an assembly plant in Saudi Arabia at the time of its deal to go public, The Wall Street Journal reported. Amrith Ramkumar, WSJ, 25 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But while the bloc is trying to create more universal requirements for tourism, each country retains sovereign powers over its borders, so conditions of entry differ from country to country, as does timing. Maureen O'hare, CNN, 5 June 2021 While the outcome was never in any serious doubt, Kent Hovind & Paul John Hansen did manage to fulfil sovereign citizen goals of wasting a year of the Court's time and resources as well as the defendants. Peter J Reilly, Forbes, 5 June 2021 Trust acquisitions enhance the power of the nation’s 574 recognized tribes, which are sovereign governments, to provide housing and law enforcement, protect hunting and farmland, and manage and benefit from natural resources. New York Times, 2 June 2021 Paiute people is told mostly through economic hardship, displacement and a 150-year fight for federal recognition as a distinct Native American tribe — a step needed to establish a sovereign land base to call home. Los Angeles Times, 29 May 2021 Taiwan, formally known as the Republic of China (ROC), is its own sovereign country. Myra Lu, National Review, 28 May 2021 Since 2007 more than $1 trillion of green bonds have been issued by corporate, municipal and sovereign borrowers, with the institutional market for such bonds growing at an average annual rate of about 95%. Paul H. Tice, WSJ, 23 May 2021 Given Bitcoin’s potential to challenge sovereign fiat currencies, Nakomoto could fear potential legal actions by governments—if not other forms of government sanction. Rebecca Baldridge, Robb Report, 22 May 2021 In a not-so-distant past, the siren was an explicit reminder for any and all Native people that lived in the town or on the sovereign lands of the nearby Washoe Tribe of California and Nevada that the daily curfew was nearing. Nick Martin, The New Republic, 19 May 2021

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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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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Statistics for sovereign

Last Updated

8 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sovereign.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sovereign. Accessed 19 Jun. 2021.

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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

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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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