1

sovereign

noun sov·er·eign \ ˈsä-v(ə-)rən , -vərn also ˈsə- \
variants: or less commonly sovran

Definition of sovereign

1 a :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

Examples of sovereign in a Sentence

  1. Ricky Martin, sovereign of Latin pop culture, is back. —Raquel CepedaVibeMay 1999
  2. During these two centuries the throne of Scotland was occupied by no more than seven sovereigns of only four different generations. —G. W. S. BarrowThe Anglo-Norman Era In Scottish History1980
  3. after the current sovereign dies, the monarchy may be abolished

Recent Examples of sovereign from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of sovereign

Middle English soverain, from Anglo-French soverein, from soverein, adjective — see 2sovereign


2

sovereign

adjective sov·er·eign \ ˈsä-v(ə-)rən , -vərn also ˈsə- \
variants: or less commonly sovran

Definition of sovereign

1 a :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
2 a :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

sovereignly

adverb

Examples of sovereign in a Sentence

  1. 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-JonesNational Review4 July 2005
  2. 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. RowlandNew Republic1 & 8 April 2002
  3. the sovereign power of a king

  4. The government's sovereign duty is to protect the rights of its citizens.

Recent Examples of sovereign from the Web

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.

Sovereign Power

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.

Origin and Etymology of sovereign

Middle English soverain, from Anglo-French soverein, from Vulgar Latin *superanus, from Latin super over, above — more at over

Synonym Discussion of sovereign

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 Defined for English Language Learners

sovereign

noun

Definition of sovereign for English Language Learners

  • : a king or queen

  • : a British gold coin that was used in the past


sovereign

adjective

Definition of sovereign for English Language Learners

  • : having unlimited power or authority

  • : not limited

  • : having independent authority and the right to govern itself


SOVEREIGN Defined for Kids

1

sovereign

noun sov·er·eign \ ˈsä-və-rən , ˈsä-vrən \

Definition of sovereign for Students

1 :a person (as a king or queen) having the highest power and authority
2 :an old British gold coin

2

sovereign

adjective

Definition of sovereign for Students

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

Medical Dictionary

sovereign

adjective sov·er·eign \ ˈsäv-(ə-)rən \

medical Definition of sovereign

:having generalized curative powers
  • a sovereign remedy

Law Dictionary

1

sovereign

noun sov·er·eign \ ˈsä-vrən, ˈsə-, -və-rən \

legal Definition of sovereign

: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 drafted
  • Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706 (1999)
— see also sovereign immunity at immunity

2

sovereign

adjective

legal Definition of sovereign

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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