do·​min·​ion də-ˈmi-nyən How to pronounce dominion (audio)
: domain
law : supreme authority : sovereignty
having dominion over the natural world
dominions plural, Christianity : an order of angels see celestial hierarchy
often capitalized government : a self-governing nation of the Commonwealth of Nations other than the United Kingdom that acknowledges the British monarch as chief of state
law : absolute ownership

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The ruler of a region has dominion over it, and the area itself may be called the ruler's dominion. In the days of the British Empire, Great Britain had dominion over many countries throughout the world. Though Canada has been quite independent of Great Britain since the 19th century, its formal title remains Dominion of Canada. The word has an old-fashioned sound today, and probably shows up in history books, historical novels, and fantasy video games more often than in discussions of modern nations.

Choose the Right Synonym for dominion

power, authority, jurisdiction, control, command, sway, dominion mean the right to govern or rule or determine.

power implies possession of ability to wield force, authority, or influence.

the power to mold public opinion

authority implies power for a specific purpose within specified limits.

granted the authority to manage her estate

jurisdiction applies to official power exercised within prescribed limits.

the bureau having jurisdiction over parks

control stresses the power to direct and restrain.

you are responsible for the students under your control

command implies the power to make arbitrary decisions and compel obedience.

the army officer in command

sway suggests the extent of exercised power or influence.

the empire extended its sway over the region

dominion stresses sovereign power or supreme authority.

given dominion over all the animals

Examples of dominion in a Sentence

The U.S. has dominion over the island. The countries fought for dominion of the territory. the dominions of the empire
Recent Examples on the Web Myanmar is undergoing fragmentation: large parts of the country, including most of Myanmar’s international borders, are now under the dominion of various ethnic armed groups. Richard Horsey, Foreign Affairs, 31 May 2024 Crooked mayors can deliver corrupt cops and other benefits to criminals seeking dominion over smuggling routes, extortion targets, municipal budgets and other opportunities in their territories, or plazas. Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times, 29 May 2024 But unlike the first game, where players are ascending to the surface, the daughter of Hades is on a quest to descend back down to Tartarus to reclaim her familial dominion. Nikki McCann Ramirez, Rolling Stone, 9 May 2024 The Balfour Declaration, as it became known, was part of a strategic British plan to take the Holy Land from Ottoman dominion. Tom Segev, Foreign Affairs, 23 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for dominion 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dominion.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English dominioun, from Middle French dominion, modification of Latin dominium, from dominus — see dominical

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dominion was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near dominion

Cite this Entry

“Dominion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


do·​min·​ion də-ˈmin-yən How to pronounce dominion (audio)
: supreme authority : sovereignty
often capitalized : a self-governing nation of the Commonwealth of Nations other than the United Kingdom that accepts the British monarch as chief of state

Middle English dominioun "control, rule," from early French dominion (same meaning), from Latin dominium "rule, ownership," from dominus "master, owner" — related to domain, dominate

Legal Definition


do·​min·​ion də-ˈmin-yən How to pronounce dominion (audio)
: supreme authority : sovereignty
: a territory over which such authority is exercised
often capitalized : a self-governing nation (as Canada) of the British Commonwealth other than the United Kingdom that acknowledges the British monarch as the head of state
: the power (as authority) or right (as ownership) to use or dispose of property
specifically : absolute or exclusive use, control, ownership, or possession of property
the transferred property is placed beyond the donor's dominion and control W. M. McGovern, Jr. et al.
the bailee exercised dominion over the vehicle

More from Merriam-Webster on dominion

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