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

Example Sentences

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 Legendary Television is currently developing a Godzilla series with producers from Toho for Apple TV+ — which will only broaden the mighty Kaiju’s global dominion. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Nov. 2022 There was an elemental purity about the man whom Crown officers believed the greatest incendiary in the king’s dominion. Stacy Schiff, Smithsonian Magazine, 21 Sep. 2022 Regardless of anyone’s personal beliefs, the basic human right to have complete control and dominion over our own bodies is mandatory for freedom to have meaning. CNN, 28 Oct. 2022 Once the shopping cart is full, the Mediterranean, Keto, Paleo and South Beach diets compete for dominion on magazine covers in the checkout line. Isabella Cueto, STAT, 11 Oct. 2022 Death apparently had no dominion to stop Carrie Fisher from reprising Princess Leia in Rogue One. Steven Levy, WIRED, 7 Oct. 2022 Men who would stop at nothing to achieve their goals of personal wealth accumulation and preservation of their dominion. Omar Bah,, 8 Mar. 2022 To trap something with purpose in the cage of emblems is to tame it, to hold dominion over it. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, 6 Oct. 2022 Fantasies of inexhaustible wealth or oceanic dominion arise, only to dissolve again in chilly mists. Neal Ascherson, The New York Review of Books, 5 Oct. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dominion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 4 Dec. 2022.

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

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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