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 At this stage, while there’s no significant impact on the credit profiles of sovereigns, there was an important warning. Bloomberg.com, "Global Security ‘Excuse’ Inflames Europe to Asia: Tariffs Update," 1 Mar. 2018 In my view, the tribes either are or are not separate sovereigns. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "Is the Supreme Court Scared of Tribal Sovereignty?," 12 May 2020 The couple reign like benign yet captive sovereigns over their islet. David Zweig, New York Times, "They Were the Last Couple in Paradise. Now Their Resort Life Continues.," 5 Apr. 2020 This doom loop supposedly can be broken only with a new round of regulations of bank balance sheets to free them from financial dependence on their sovereigns. Joseph C. Sternberg, WSJ, "Italy’s ‘Doom Loops,’ Imagined and Real," 3 Jan. 2019 Normand said his approach dovetails with the recommendations in the past week from bottom-up analysts at JPMorgan to add exposure in U.S. and European credit, peripheral European sovereigns, and U.S. and European inflation breakevens. Joanna Ossinger, Fortune, "JPMorgan says the coronavirus market rout has probably hit bottom already," 30 Mar. 2020 The Danish government, the distant sovereign over these tiny islands, dispatched Peter Panum, an observant young doctor with mutton-chop sideburns, to the scene. Kyle Harper, Time, "What Makes Viruses Like COVID-19 Such a Risk for Human Beings? The Answer Goes Back Thousands of Years," 11 Mar. 2020 One of the things that will happen for the larger community of Alaska, this will normalize the thought of tribes as sovereigns. USA TODAY, "Tombstone gunfight, sparkler spoiler, no superbloom: News from around our 50 states," 18 Feb. 2020 Brazil Brazil’s debt posted a stellar performance last year as dollar and local currency sovereigns both posted returns of nearly 14 percent according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Justin Villamil, Bloomberg.com, "Election Risks Loom Over Latin American Sovereign Bonds in 2018," 8 Jan. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Meanwhile other sovereign funds, such as Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), have taken advantage of bargains in stockmarkets. The Economist, "Raid on the piggy banks Sovereign-wealth funds face lean years," 23 May 2020 Russia has amassed more than five hundred and sixty billion dollars in sovereign reserve funds—as well as fortitude, and plain-old chutzpah. Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker, "How the Russian-Saudi Oil War Went Awry—for Putin Most of All," 15 Apr. 2020 European Union member Cyprus has denounced Turkey’s actions as a flagrant violation of its sovereign rights and of international law. Washington Post, "France gives backing to Cyprus amid gas search tensions," 18 Feb. 2020 Over the following week, seven Indonesian warships were pressed into the effort to try to drive out the Chinese ships—and, according to an Indonesian navy spokesman, signal that Indonesia was serious about protecting its sovereign rights. Niharika Mandhana, WSJ, "In South China Sea Confrontation, Indonesia Resists China—Cautiously," 17 Jan. 2020 On Tuesday, Moody’s said that its outlook for sovereign creditworthiness in the euro area for 2020 changed to negative, from stable this time last year. John Ainger, Bloomberg.com, "Moody’s Warns U.K. Deadline to Reach EU Deal Risks Credit View," 15 May 2020 Moreover, given that most hard currency debt for the private sector is benchmarked off the sovereign, this has the potential to significantly increase financing costs to growing businesses across the region. Rodrigo Olivares-caminal, Quartz Africa, "Africa needs to be wary of the unintended consequences with a moratorium on its debt," 11 May 2020 Lebanon shoulders more than $90 billion of debt and defaulted on sovereign debt payments for the first time in March. Scott Peterson, The Christian Science Monitor, "Why Lebanese protesters are risking a return to the streets," 6 May 2020 The numerous overlapping sovereign claims to islands, reefs and rocks — many of which disappear under high tide — have turned the waters into a zone of competing diplomatic interests, embroiling neighbors. NBC News, "China says it 'expelled' U.S. Navy vessel from South China Sea," 29 Apr. 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

3 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sovereign.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sovereign. Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for sovereign

sovereign

noun
How to pronounce sovereign (audio)

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
How to pronounce sovereign (audio)

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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