Definitions

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

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Supreme or highest in power; superior to all others; chief.
  • adj. Independent of, and unlimited by, any other; possessing, or entitled to, original authority or jurisdiction.
  • adj. Princely; royal.
  • adj. Predominant; greatest; utmost; paramount.
  • adj. Efficacious in the highest degree; effectual; controlling.
  • n. The person, body, or state in which independent and supreme authority is vested; especially, in a monarchy, a king, queen, or emperor.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Any butterfly of the tribe Nymphalidi, or genus Basilarchia, as the ursula and the viceroy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • n. One who exercises supreme control or dominion; a ruler, governor, chief, or master; one to whom allegiance is due.
  • n. Specifically—(a ) A husband; a lord and master.
  • n. (b ) A provost or mayor.
  • n. A monarch; an emperor or empress; a king or queen.
  • n. A current English gold coin, the standard of the coinage, worth £1 or 20 shillings ($4.84), and weighing grains troy.
  • n. Synonyms King, etc. (see prince), potentate.
  • To rule over as a sovereign; exercise sovereign authority over.
  • n. An Austrian gold coin of the value of three ducats. The sovereign of Ferdinand I. was worth $6.76.
  • n. 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 WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

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

Etymologies

Middle English soverain, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *superānus, from Latin super, above.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • 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

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

    The Doctrines of Predestination, Reprobation, and Election

  • 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

  • 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.

    NEWS.com.au | Top Stories

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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

    CNN Transcript Jan 23, 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

  • Belarus, Albania, the Ukraine also have what you call 'sovereign' currencies, they also have crashed.

    The Guardian World News

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  • Matisyahu's sovereign has misplaced his headpiece

    April 18, 2009

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

    December 20, 2007