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 In his famous Leviathan, the 17th-century theorist Thomas Hobbes argued that members of a political society should submit themselves to an absolute sovereign to preserve their lives and security. Joseph Loconte, National Review, "Resisting the Leviathan: The Mayflower Compact," 11 Nov. 2020 The British sovereign’s annual Christmas Day message, which has been tradition since 1932 and televised since 1957, is used to sum up the themes of the past 12 months and wish the nation and Commonwealth a happy Christmas. Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, "Queen Elizabeth Uses Her Annual Christmas Day Broadcast to Send a Message of Hope," 25 Dec. 2020 Paine likely could never have imagined that America might one day be the geopolitical island governing the European Continent—its leaders forced to petition the great U.S. sovereign for protection. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, "Joe Biden Won’t Fix America’s Relationship With the World," 8 Nov. 2020 Whereas liberal scholars view the rule of law as the final authority on value conflicts, Schmitt believed that the sovereign should always have the final say. Chang Che, The Atlantic, "The Nazi Inspiring China’s Communists," 1 Dec. 2020 Buckingham Palace confirmed that the sovereign and the Duke of Edinburgh will instead stay put at Windsor Castle as the United Kingdom continues to slow down the spread of the novel virus. Bianca Betancourt, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Queen and Prince Philip Will Skip Christmas at Sandringham Due to COVID-19," 1 Dec. 2020 The sovereign is still at A, its sixth highest rating, and on par with Japan and Iceland, according to a statement on Monday. Matthew Martin, Bloomberg.com, "Saudi Arabia Outlook Cut to Negative by Fitch on Oil, Virus," 9 Nov. 2020 This helped the young sovereign be taken seriously in a world of mostly male leaders. Washington Post, "Fans of ‘The Crown’ want to know more about the Windsors. These five books should help.," 17 Nov. 2020 In their final audience, after Thatcher has been ousted as leader of the Conservative Party, the Queen gives her the Order of Merit, an honor that comes at the discretion of the sovereign. Anne Cohen, refinery29.com, "So, Did Queen Elizabeth And Margaret Thatcher Really Hate Each Other That Much?," 15 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Case law on jurisdiction over non-Natives in Indian Country is tangled and tricky because America only started really treating tribes as sovereign nations about 50 years ago. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "Indian Country Refuses to Be Corporate America’s Dumping Ground," 12 Jan. 2021 Khashoggi's fiancee called on the Premier League to block moves to buy Newcastle United last year by Saudi's sovereign wealth fund, which is headed by the prince. Rob Harris, Star Tribune, "Amnesty critical of FIFA leader starring in Saudi PR video," 8 Jan. 2021 Oil revenue helped build the country's $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund, which is now embracing renewable energy and dumping oil and gas stocks. Charles Riley, CNN, "Electric cars hit record 54% of sales in Norway as VW overtakes Tesla," 5 Jan. 2021 Turkey has set a target of $9 billion for sovereign borrowing abroad this year. Asli Kandemir, Bloomberg.com, "JPMorgan Calls Turnaround on Turkey as More Borrowers Return," 20 Oct. 2020 An individual, however, is not covered by sovereign immunity. Dallas News, "Are government officials vulnerable? The answer is a resounding yes," 27 Dec. 2020 Because of Georgia's sovereign immunity, Georgians cannot sue the government unless the incident involves an automobile accident, Adkins said. Nyamekye Daniel, Washington Examiner, "Georgia lawmakers examine police accountability, qualified immunity," 23 Dec. 2020 Investors positioning for a post-pandemic recovery have South Korean sovereign bonds in their crosshairs. Hooyeon Kim, Bloomberg.com, "Global Recovery Trade Sees Korean Bonds in Investors’ Crosshairs," 20 Dec. 2020 The offer was six times oversubscribed, according to Reuters, and priced with a slight yield premium over Saudi sovereign bonds. Rochelle Toplensky, WSJ, "Oil Giant Aramco’s Strong Stock Is a Mirage," 20 Nov. 2020

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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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

27 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sovereign.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sovereign. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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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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Comments on sovereign

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