sov·​er·​eign·​ty | \ ˈsä-v(ə-)rən-tē How to pronounce sovereignty (audio) , -vərn-tē also ˈsə- \
variants: or less commonly sovranty
plural sovereignties also sovranties

Essential Meaning of sovereignty

1 : unlimited power over a country
2 : a country's independent authority and the right to govern itself national sovereignty a claim of/to sovereignty

Full Definition of sovereignty

1a : supreme power especially over a body politic
b : freedom from external control : autonomy
c : controlling influence
2 : one that is sovereign especially : an autonomous state
3 obsolete : supreme excellence or an example of it

Examples of sovereignty in a Sentence

Nor was the sovereignty of the Native Hawaiian race recognized at the time Hawaii became a state. — Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review, 18 July 2005 Cesaire's wrenching chant of self-affirmation announced a new era of intellectual and cultural sovereignty for black writers in French. — Lila Azam Zanganeh, New York Times Book Review, 12 June 2005 The position plunged him into a supremely complicated religious and political game. Throughout Europe the old order of divinely sanctioned kingdoms was battling models of popular sovereignty and citizenship inspired by the Enlightenment, the French Revolution and the adolescent U.S. — David Van Biema, Time, 4 Sept. 2000 upon leaving home she felt that she had achieved sovereignty for the first time in her life as parts of the same sovereignty, the states should not enact laws intended to harm one another economically
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Recent Examples on the Web Russia and Ukraine are currently at odds with one another over Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence. Amiah Taylor, Fortune, 14 Jan. 2022 It’s often been used by critics of Māori who seek equal rights and sovereignty. Gabriela Miranda, USA TODAY, 31 Dec. 2021 Now the pueblo is developing a responsible-tourism model that prioritizes sovereignty and authenticity. Sucheta Rawal, Travel + Leisure, 26 Dec. 2021 The pipeline brings up questions of energy security, and pits them against concerns about European geopolitical interests and protection of the Ukraine’s sovereignty and NATO Expansion. University Of Houston Energy Fellows, Forbes, 21 Dec. 2021 The camp became the catalyst for a global protest movement that embraced issues of tribal sovereignty, environmental justice and more. New York Times, 30 Dec. 2021 However, locating operations in parts of the world that share a similar commitment to digital transformation, data sovereignty, and open standards will make a fundamental difference in moving supply chains into a digital age. Sanjay Brahmawar, Fortune, 28 Dec. 2021 And the migration crisis is complicated, involving issues of borders, policing, state resources, employment, education, national sovereignty, and international coöperation, as well as those of race, ethnicity, religion, culture, and history. Paul Elie, The New Yorker, 21 Dec. 2021 The system would be secured by international agreement, with guarantees for the independence, sovereignty, and democratic choice of those former Soviet countries, especially Ukraine and Georgia. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, 13 Dec. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sovereignty.' 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 sovereignty

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for sovereignty

Middle English soverainte, from Anglo-French sovereinté, from soverein — see sovereign entry 2

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The first known use of sovereignty was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

17 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sovereignty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for sovereignty


sov·​er·​eign·​ty | \ ˈsä-və-rən-tē How to pronounce sovereignty (audio) , ˈsä-vrən- \
plural sovereignties

Kids Definition of sovereignty

1 : supreme power especially over a political unit (as a country)
2 : a country's independent authority and right of self-control


sov·​er·​eign·​ty | \ ˈsä-vrən-tē, ˈsə-, -və-rən- \
plural sovereignties

Legal Definition of sovereignty

1a : supreme power especially over a body politic
b : freedom from external control : autonomy
2 : one that is sovereign especially : an autonomous state

More from Merriam-Webster on sovereignty

Nglish: Translation of sovereignty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sovereignty for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about sovereignty


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