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

  • noun Supremacy of authority or rule as exercised by a sovereign or sovereign state.
  • noun Royal rank, authority, or power.
  • noun Complete independence and self-government.
  • noun A territory existing as an independent state.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The state or character of being sovereign or a sovereign.
  • noun Specifically—(a ) Mastery; control; predominance.
  • noun The rule or sway of a monarch; royal or imperial power.
  • noun Supremacy or dominion; hegemony: applied to the relation between a powerful state and other states or regions: as, Rome's sovereignty over the East; Great Britain holds the sovereignty of the seas. The supreme, absolute, uncontrollable power by which any state is governed (Cooley); the political authority, whether vested in a single individual or in a number of individuals, to order and direct what is to be done by each individual in relation to the end and object of the state (Halleck). It is essential to the modern conception of sovereignty that it should be exclusive of any other human superior authority, should be wielded by a determinate person or organization of persons, and should be on the whole habitually obeyed by the bulk of the community. Thus, in the United States, sovereignty is vested in the body of adult male citizens. The claim that each State—that is, the adult male free citizens of each State—possessed a separate sovereignty was one of the elements of controversy involved in the civil war.
  • noun A state, community, or political unit possessing independent power.
  • noun (f ) Supremacy in excellence; supreme excellence.
  • noun Efficacy; especially, medicinal efficacy.

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

  • noun The quality or state of being sovereign, or of being a sovereign; the exercise of, or right to exercise, supreme power; dominion; sway; supremacy; independence; also, that which is sovereign; a sovereign state.

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

  • noun of a nation The state of making laws and controlling resources without the coercion of other nations.
  • noun Supreme authority over all things.
  • noun of a person The liberty to decide one's thoughts and actions.

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

  • noun royal authority; the dominion of a monarch
  • noun government free from external control
  • noun the authority of a state to govern another state


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French soverain, from Vulgar Latin root *superānus (cf. Italian sovrano, Spanish soberano) from Latin super ("above"). Plus the Latinate English suffix -ty. Spelling influenced by folk-etymology association with reign.


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  • At the revolution the sovereignty devolved on the people; and they are truly the sovereigns of the country, but _they are sovereigns without subjects_ (unless the African slaves among us may be so called), and have none to govern but themselves; the citizens of America _are equal as fellow-citizens, and as joint tenants in the sovereignty_. "

    An Account of the Proceedings on the Trial of Susan B. Anthony, on the Charge of Illegal Voting Anonymous

  • Manoj Baruah of the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad said the term sovereignty should not be the hurdle for peace talks and the process should start soon.

    The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) - Frontpage 2010

  • Manoj Baruah of the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad said the term sovereignty should not be the hurdle for peace talks and the process should start soon.

    The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) - Frontpage 2010

  • The term sovereignty is familiar to many from anti-colonial movements for national liberation. 2009

  • But he takes nationalism, or what he calls sovereignty, to be all or nothing, excluding the possibility that we might enforce international standards of human rights without eliminating the United States and bringing on swarms of black helicopters.

    Abandoning Torture But What About War? 2009

  • The leader's long experience with the party and the 20-year history notwithstanding, Quebec-based journalists questioned him on what good his party does in the national capital, and about his omission of the word "sovereignty" in his new campaign slogan. - Home Page Andrew Chung 2011

  • What's your sense of this term sovereignty and how it relates to food? 2009

  • Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Prologue stars a woman who takes five husbands for their sex and wealth, and seeks to gain "sovereignty" over them sexually.

    INTERVIEW: Andy Remic 2008

  • To which General Valencia replied: – That a correspondent reward should follow an heroic action, nothing more natural; but to remunerate a service which does not go beyond the sphere of ordinary things, such as mine in the affair of the 15th to the 26th of July of 1840, by such a noble distinction as the sword of honour with which your Excellency has deigned to gird me, in the name of the National Congress, of this the magnanimity of the sovereignty is alone capable; and so it is that I remain annihilated by a present worthy of the ages of the Roman Senate and Republic.

    Life in Mexico, During a Residence of Two Years in That Country Frances Erskine Inglis 1843

  • Food sovereignty is the right of a people to define their own food and agricultural systems, premised on growing domestically for domestic consumption.

    Beverly Bell: Haitian Farmers: Growing Strength to Grow Food Beverly Bell 2010

  • “We define [energy sovereignty] as you’re free to decide which type of fuel source you want to use,” says Luis Reyes, CEO of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative.

    How Indigenous Communities are Building Energy Sovereignty Natalie Peart 2021


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