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

  • n. Authoritative permission or approval that makes a course of action valid. See Synonyms at permission.
  • n. Support or encouragement, as from public opinion or established custom.
  • n. A consideration, influence, or principle that dictates an ethical choice.
  • n. A law or decree.
  • n. The penalty for noncompliance specified in a law or decree.
  • n. A penalty, specified or in the form of moral pressure, that acts to ensure compliance or conformity.
  • n. A coercive measure adopted usually by several nations acting together against a nation violating international law.
  • transitive v. To give official authorization or approval to: "The president, we are told, has sanctioned greed at the cost of compassion” ( David Rankin).
  • transitive v. To encourage or tolerate by indicating approval. See Synonyms at approve.
  • transitive v. To penalize, especially for violating a moral principle or international law.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An approval, by an authority, generally one that makes something valid.
  • n. A penalty, or some coercive measure, intended to ensure compliance; especially one adopted by several nations, or by an international body.
  • n. A law, treaty, or contract, or a clause within a law, treaty, or contract, specifying the above.
  • v. To ratify; to make valid.
  • v. To give official authorization or approval to; to countenance.
  • v. To penalize (a State etc.) with sanctions.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Solemn or ceremonious ratification; an official act of a superior by which he ratifies and gives validity to the act of some other person or body; establishment or furtherance of anything by giving authority to it; confirmation; approbation.
  • n. Anything done or said to enforce the will, law, or authority of another.
  • transitive v. To give sanction to; to ratify; to confirm; to approve.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To give authoritative permission or approval to: ratify; confirm; invest with validity or authority.
  • To give countenance or support to; approve.
  • Synonyms Allow, Permit, etc. See allow.
  • n. The act of making sacred; the act of rendering authoritative as law; the act of decreeing or ratifying; the act of making binding, as by an oath.
  • n. A decree; an ordinance; a law: as, the pragmatic sanction.
  • n. The conferring of authority upon an opinion, practice, or sentiment; confirmation or support derived from public approval, from exalted testimony, or from the countenance of a person or body commanding respect.
  • n. A provision of a law which enforces obedience by the enactment of rewards or penalties, called respectively remuneratory and punitive sanctions; hence, in utilitarian ethics, the knowledge of the pleasurable or painful consequences of an act, as making it moral or immoral.
  • n. Synonyms and Authorization, countenance, support, warrant.

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

  • v. give religious sanction to, such as through on oath
  • n. a mechanism of social control for enforcing a society's standards
  • n. the act of final authorization
  • v. give authority or permission to
  • n. official permission or approval
  • n. formal and explicit approval
  • v. give sanction to


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

Middle English, enactment of a law, from Old French, ecclesiastical decree, from Latin sānctiō, sānctiōn-, binding law, penal sanction, from sānctus, holy; see sanctify.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French sanction.



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  • Most commentary from both sides of this conflict indicates that these sanctions were highly effective.

    September 14, 2010

  • Classic contronym in the sense: allow vs. disallow.

    January 31, 2007