from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun One that exercises supreme, permanent authority, especially in a nation or other governmental unit, as.
  • noun A king, queen, or other noble person who serves as chief of state; a ruler or monarch.
  • noun A national governing council or committee.
  • noun A nation that governs territory outside its borders.
  • noun A gold coin formerly used in Great Britain.
  • adjective Self-governing; independent.
  • adjective Having supreme rank or power.
  • adjective Paramount; supreme.
  • adjective Of superlative strength or efficacy.
  • adjective Unmitigated.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To rule over as a sovereign; exercise sovereign authority over.
  • Supreme; paramount; commanding; excellent.
  • Supreme in power; possessing supreme dominion; not subject to any other; hence, royal; princely.
  • Efficacious in the highest degree; potent: said especially of medicines.
  • noun One who exercises supreme control or dominion; a ruler, governor, chief, or master; one to whom allegiance is due.
  • noun Specifically—(a ) A husband; a lord and master.
  • noun (b ) A provost or mayor.
  • noun A monarch; an emperor or empress; a king or queen.
  • noun A current English gold coin, the standard of the coinage, worth £1 or 20 shillings ($4.84), and weighing grains troy.
  • noun Synonyms King, etc. (see prince), potentate.
  • noun An Austrian gold coin of the value of three ducats. The sovereign of Ferdinand I. was worth $6.76.
  • noun Any one of several nymphalid butterflies of the genus Basilarchia, as the banded purple, the hybrid purple, the red-spotted purple, the viceroy and the vicereine.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Supreme or highest in power; superior to all others; chief.
  • adjective Independent of, and unlimited by, any other; possessing, or entitled to, original authority or jurisdiction.
  • adjective Princely; royal.
  • adjective Predominant; greatest; utmost; paramount.
  • adjective Efficacious in the highest degree; effectual; controlling.
  • adjective a state which administers its own government, and is not dependent upon, or subject to, another power.
  • noun The person, body, or state in which independent and supreme authority is vested; especially, in a monarchy, a king, queen, or emperor.
  • noun A gold coin of Great Britain, on which an effigy of the head of the reigning king or queen is stamped, valued at one pound sterling, or about $4.86.
  • noun (Zoöl.) Any butterfly of the tribe Nymphalidi, or genus Basilarchia, as the ursula and the viceroy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Exercising power of rule.
  • adjective Exceptional in quality.
  • adjective Extremely potent or effective (of a medicine, remedy etc.).
  • adjective Having supreme, ultimate power.
  • noun A monarch; the ruler of a country.
  • noun One who is not a subject to a ruler or nation.
  • noun A gold coin formerly used in the United Kingdom.
  • noun A very large champagne bottle with the capacity of about 25 liters, equivalent to 33⅓ standard bottles.
  • noun Any butterfly of the tribe Nymphalidi, or genus Basilarchia, as the ursula and the viceroy.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective (of political bodies) not controlled by outside forces
  • adjective greatest in status or authority or power
  • noun a nation's ruler or head of state usually by hereditary right


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English soverain, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *superānus, from Latin super, above; see uper in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French soverain (whence also modern French souverain), from Vulgar Latin root *superānus (cf. Italian sovrano, Spanish soberano) from Latin super ("above"). Spelling influenced by folk-etymology association with reign. See also suzerain.


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  • England could stamp on her sovereign, _Equal to a U.S. half eagle_, and we could stamp on our half eagle, _Equal to a British sovereign_, and thus furnish a currency, which from necessity would in time be adopted by all the world, avoiding vast trouble, loss of time, and litigation, and saving millions of dollars every year.

    The Continental Monthly, Vol 2, No 6, December 1862 Devoted to Literature and National Policy Various

  • The term sovereign is from the French "sovereign," and that again from the Latin "supernus."

    The Doctrines of Predestination, Reprobation, and Election Robert Wallace

  • The Kremlin's deputy chief of staff Vladislav Surkov - known as Russia's grey cardinal who coined the phrase sovereign democracy to describe its political system - told a forum in Moscow that "no radical steps would be undertaken" in the next years. | Top Stories 2011

  • In using the term sovereign, I am not as concerned about the concept of sovereignty and whether the Assad regime deserves to have its sovereignty respected as I am concerned with the fact that the Syrian military still has the capability to resist such an invasion of the country's territory.

    The Guardian World News Lizzy Davies 2012

  • If you hear the term sovereign debt crisis ten times a day that is because now that the bailed out are now saved states will be allowed to fail.

    Center for American Progress Action Fund myglesias 2010

  • If you hear the term sovereign debt crisis ten times a day that is because now that the bailed out are now saved states will be allowed to fail.

    Center for American Progress Action Fund 2010

  • After the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and 1998, the IMF proposed an institutionalized default program, which it called the sovereign debt restructuring mechanism.

    Amid Irish Aid, a New Option Bob Davis 2010

  • This is what he terms the sovereign debt delusion (see "Too big to rescue" for more on this).

    Edward Harrison: Forget about Dubai. The real problem is in Europe 2009

  • They have what they call sovereign wealth now, and some of those countries are interested in investing.

    CNN Transcript Jan 23, 2008 2008

  • The sovereign is the agent for the purpose of directing the united strength for the common benefit; but the sovereign is an agent of unlimited discretion, and with authority that cannot be revoked.

    Leviathan or Post-War Trends in Government and Business 1947


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  • A sovereign, a 25-liter bottle of champagne.

    December 20, 2007

  • Matisyahu's sovereign has misplaced his headpiece

    April 18, 2009