unilateral

adjective
uni·​lat·​er·​al | \ ˌyü-ni-ˈla-tə-rəl , -ˈla-trəl\

Definition of unilateral

1a : done or undertaken by one person or party
b : of, relating to, or affecting one side of a subject : one-sided
c : constituting or relating to a contract or engagement by which an express obligation to do or forbear is imposed on only one party
2a : having parts arranged on one side a unilateral raceme
b : occurring on, performed on, or affecting one side of the body or one of its parts unilateral exophthalmos
3 : unilineal
4 : having only one side

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Other Words from unilateral

unilaterally adverb

Did You Know?

The world is a smaller place than it used to be, and we get uncomfortable when a single nation adopts a policy of unilateralism—that is, acting independently with little regard for what the rest of the world thinks. A unilateral invasion of another country, for instance, usually looks like a grab for power and resources. But occasionally the world welcomes a unilateral action, as when the U.S. announced unilateral nuclear-arms reductions in the early 1990s. Previously, such reductions had only happened as part of bilateral ("two-sided") agreements with the old Soviet Union. Multilateral agreements, on issues such as climate change, often involve most of the world's nations.

Examples of unilateral in a Sentence

Our country is prepared to take unilateral action.

Recent Examples on the Web

Both leaders' support allowed Rajoy's conservative cabinet to take direct control of the Catalan affairs last year in response to the region's unilateral independence declaration. Aritz Parra, chicagotribune.com, "Catalan lawmakers vote in new separatist chief Torra," 14 May 2018 Both sides enjoyed the discomfiture of the foreign-policy establishment when Mr. Trump challenged conventional wisdom, and both praised his willingness to pursue a more unilateral course in foreign affairs. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, "Trump’s Populist Schism Over Syria," 23 Dec. 2018 Google wasn't exactly wrong in its assessments, but SPDY was something of a unilateral act, with Google responsible for the design and functionality. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Google isn’t the company that we should have handed the Web over to," 17 Dec. 2018 Seek compromise with the right, or cut it loose and accept that progress will only be made where Democrats can amass unilateral power? David Roberts, Vox, "After the midterms, US climate politics are even more polarized. Here’s how Dems can move forward.," 12 Nov. 2018 The possible message: Stay quiet, don’t cooperate with prosecutors, and Trump will use the president’s unilateral pardon powers to absolve you of wrongdoing and keep you out of jail. Bob Van Voris, Bloomberg.com, "What Pardons Can (and Can’t) Do for Trump’s Defense," 4 June 2018 Ford promised to fire the utility’s CEO and board upon taking office, but critics point out that Hydro One has been partly privatized and so the province doesn’t have unilateral power to fire anybody. Washington Post, BostonGlobe.com, "Brother of Rob Ford running for office, and sounds like Trump," 29 Apr. 2018 Macron later ticked off ways Trump has disappointed him — from his withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and Iranian nuclear deal to unilateral tariffs on steel and aluminum. Angela Charlton, The Seattle Times, "Bromance cools for once-chummy Trump and Marcon," 26 Sep. 2018 They’ve repeatedly been peppered by friends and foes alike on range of issues, with the harshest criticism reserved for American president Donald Trump’s unilateral trade tariffs designed to curb cheap steel and aluminum exports from China. Carl Prine, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Mattis acknowledges 'unusual ways' of administration, calls for patience at Asian talks," 2 June 2018

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

1802, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Last Updated

23 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for unilateral

The first known use of unilateral was in 1802

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More Definitions for unilateral

unilateral

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of unilateral

: involving only one group or country

unilateral

adjective
uni·​lat·​er·​al | \ ˌyü-ni-ˈlat-ə-rəl, -ˈla-trəl \

Medical Definition of unilateral

: occurring on, performed on, or affecting one side of the body or one of its parts unilateral exophthalmos

Other Words from unilateral

unilaterally \ -​ē \ adverb

unilateral

adjective
uni·​lat·​er·​al | \ ˌyü-nə-ˈla-tə-rəl \

Legal Definition of unilateral

1 : done or undertaken by one party a unilateral mistake as to the terms
2 : of, relating to, or affecting one side of a subject
3 : containing a promise to perform made by only one party especially because the other has already performed (as by paying an amount) an option contract is unilateral

Other Words from unilateral

unilaterally adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on unilateral

Spanish Central: Translation of unilateral

Nglish: Translation of unilateral for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of unilateral for Arabic Speakers

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