sanction

noun
sanc·​tion | \ ˈsaŋ(k)-shən How to pronounce sanction (audio) \

Essential Meaning of sanction

formal
1 : an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country, etc.
2 : official permission or approval The country acted without the sanction of the other nations. Their policy has/lacks legal sanction.

Full Definition of sanction

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a formal decree especially : an ecclesiastical decree
2a obsolete : a solemn agreement : oath
b : something that makes an oath binding
3 : the detriment, loss of reward, or coercive intervention annexed to a violation of a law as a means of enforcing the law
4a : a consideration, principle, or influence (as of conscience) that impels to moral action or determines moral judgment
b : a mechanism of social control for enforcing a society's standards
c : explicit or official approval, permission, or ratification : approbation
5 : an economic or military coercive measure adopted usually by several nations in concert for forcing a nation violating international law to desist or yield to adjudication

sanction

verb
sanctioned; sanctioning\ ˈsaŋ(k)-​sh(ə-​)niŋ How to pronounce sanction (audio) \

Definition of sanction (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to make valid or binding usually by a formal procedure (such as ratification)
2 : to give effective or authoritative approval or consent to … such characters … look, talk, and act in ways sanctioned by society and novelistic tradition …— Lawrence Chua
3a : to attach a sanction or penalty to the violation of (a right, obligation, or command) … the status, procedures, rights, and duties of members are carefully defined by rules that are sanctioned by fines should they be contravened by members.— Malcolm Ruel
b : to impose a sanction or penalty upon … a Long Island brokerage firm that, at the time, had serious Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC fraud charges pending against it and has since been heavily fined and sanctioned.— Molly Ivins

Other Words from sanction

Verb

sanctionable \ ˈsaŋ(k)-​sh(ə-​)nə-​bəl How to pronounce sanction (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for sanction

Verb

approve, endorse, sanction, accredit, certify mean to have or express a favorable opinion of. approve often implies no more than this but may suggest considerable esteem or admiration. the parents approve of the marriage endorse suggests an explicit statement of support. publicly endorsed her for Senator sanction implies both approval and authorization. the President sanctioned covert operations accredit and certify usually imply official endorsement attesting to conformity to set standards. the board voted to accredit the college must be certified to teach

Sanction Has Legal Origins

Sanction can be both a verb and a noun meaning "authoritative approval" or "a coercive measure." The noun entered English first, in the 15th century, and originally referred to a formal decree or law, especially an ecclesiastical decree. (The Latin sancire, meaning "to make holy," is an ancestor.) The noun's meaning then extended in different directions. By the end of the 17th century, it could refer to both a means of enforcing a law (a sense that in the 20th century we began using especially for economic penalties against nations violating international law) and the process of formally approving or ratifying a law. When the verb sanction appeared in the 18th century, it had to do with ratifying laws as well. Soon it had also acquired an additional, looser sense: "to approve."

Examples of sanction in a Sentence

Noun The country acted without the sanction of the other nations. Their policy has legal sanction. Verb The government has sanctioned the use of force. His actions were not sanctioned by his superiors.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The center had suspended Salazar temporarily in early 2020, then permanently last summer, but the sanction left the door open for the decision to be overturned by an arbitrator. Rachel Bachman, WSJ, 22 Dec. 2021 Some might argue that an unprecedented two impeachments represent the ultimate sanction and historic stain. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 8 Oct. 2021 The Connecticut Supreme Court upheld Bellis’ sanction, which barred Jones from filing a motion to dismiss the case, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Jones’ appeal of the decision this spring. Zach Murdock, courant.com, 15 Nov. 2021 The Packers didn’t sanction the Halloween party, but were aware of it and didn’t discipline either player for the violations. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, 10 Nov. 2021 For example, early on, the CDC would sanction testing only if a person was suffering from respiratory symptoms and had been to China or been in contact with someone confirmed to have the disease. oregonlive, 11 Aug. 2021 The one-month sanction, which began on June 28, will expire just in time for the 100-meter relay event at the Olympic Games. Emilia Benton, SELF, 7 July 2021 Hollingsworth had refused the board's initial, harsher sanction, a letter of reprimand. Rachel Herzog, Arkansas Online, 2 July 2021 Few school systems have received such a sanction, which is considered by many to be the harshest penalty the state can impose for district misbehavior. Emily Donaldson, Dallas News, 21 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Biden administration and Senate Democrats have teamed up on a proposal to personally sanction Russian President Vladimir Putin and members of his inner circle if the Kremlin invades Ukraine. Michael Collins, USA TODAY, 13 Jan. 2022 Watson said the commission can’t sanction 100,000 people going out to the route as COVID cases are on the rise. Vincent T. Davis, San Antonio Express-News, 7 Jan. 2022 Under discussion are steps as extreme as cutting off Russia’s access to the international financial settlement system, called SWIFT, and a series of restrictions on its banks such as those honed in the effort to sanction Iran. Eric Schmitt, BostonGlobe.com, 6 Dec. 2021 This past July, Congress authorized the State Department to sanction several officials close to Bukele, as well as others from Guatemala and Honduras. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, 8 Nov. 2021 In May, the Biden administration waived sanctions on the primary company overseeing it, but has still sought to sanction the pipeline at the margins. Washington Post, 20 Dec. 2021 For example, a group of 18 US congresspeople sent a letter to the Treasury and State Departments on Tuesday calling on the agencies to sanction NSO Group and three other international surveillance companies, as first reported by Reuters. Lily Hay Newman, Ars Technica, 18 Dec. 2021 For example, a group of 18 US congresspeople sent a letter to the Treasury and State Departments on Tuesday calling on the agencies to sanction NSO Group and three other international surveillance companies, as first reported by Reuters. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, 15 Dec. 2021 The judge is there to coordinate, cajole and, when necessary, coerce: If participants continue using substances or flout the mandates of the court, the judge can sanction them, including through rearrest. Ted Alcorn, Washington Post, 30 Nov. 2021

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

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1778, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sanction

Noun

Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin sanction-, sanctio, from sancire to make holy — more at sacred

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Time Traveler for sanction

Time Traveler

The first known use of sanction was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near sanction

sanctimony

sanction

sanctionative

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Statistics for sanction

Last Updated

3 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sanction.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sanction. Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for sanction

sanction

noun
sanc·​tion | \ ˈsaŋk-shən How to pronounce sanction (audio) \

Kids Definition of sanction

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : official approval or permission The soldiers' conduct did not have the king's sanction.
2 : an action (as the ending of financial aid) taken by one or more nations to make another nation comply with a law or rule

sanction

verb
sanctioned; sanctioning

Kids Definition of sanction (Entry 2 of 2)

: to officially accept or allow The coaches sanctioned the new rule.

sanction

noun
sanc·​tion | \ ˈsaŋk-shən How to pronounce sanction (audio) \

Legal Definition of sanction

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a punitive or coercive measure or action that results from failure to comply with a law, rule, or order a sanction for contempt
2 : explicit or official approval
3 : an economic or military coercive measure adopted usually by several nations in concert for forcing a nation violating international law to desist or yield to adjudication

sanction

transitive verb

Legal Definition of sanction (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to give official approval or consent to : ratify
2 : to impose a sanction on sanctioned the lawyer for professional misconduct

More from Merriam-Webster on sanction

Nglish: Translation of sanction for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sanction for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sanction

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