uni·​lat·​er·​al | \ ˌyü-ni-ˈla-tə-rəl How to pronounce unilateral (audio) , -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

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 Apple shut production, with C-level BOE execs visiting Apple to explain the company’s unilateral decision to alter the design of a critical iPhone component. Chris Smith, BGR, 7 July 2022 No one branch of government can give a unilateral decision without a compromise between the two branches. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, 22 Apr. 2022 The collaborative approach stands in contrast to Apple, which ticked off many developers and advertisers with its unilateral decision to make privacy changes. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 17 Feb. 2022 That was the strategy the EPA had pursued for nearly a decade as its best option for imposing climate regulations by unilateral executive action. Mario Loyola, WSJ, 30 June 2022 Russia’s consistent willingness to abuse the process cannot excuse unilateral action by other Members. Joshua Goodman, Anchorage Daily News, 22 June 2022 Finally, after further argument, Eastman conceded to Jacob that the verdict against Pence’s assertion of unilateral power would have been unanimous. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 17 June 2022 On the law, Mr. Pence is right: The Constitution does not give the Vice President unilateral power to reject electoral votes. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 16 June 2022 If universities refuse to respect that right, then courts will have to step up and reaffirm that universities do not have unilateral power to dictate how student organizations select their leaders. Caleb Dalton, National Review, 11 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of unilateral

1802, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for unilateral

Time Traveler

The first known use of unilateral was in 1802

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Dictionary Entries Near unilateral



unilateral compound pitting

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Last Updated

24 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Unilateral.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unilateral. Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for unilateral


uni·​lat·​er·​al | \ ˌyü-ni-ˈlat-ə-rəl, -ˈla-trəl How to pronounce unilateral (audio) \

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 How to pronounce unilateral (audio) \ adverb


uni·​lat·​er·​al | \ ˌyü-nə-ˈla-tə-rəl How to pronounce unilateral (audio) \

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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