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[sangk-shuh n] /ˈsæŋk ʃən/
authoritative permission or approval, as for an action.
something that serves to support an action, condition, etc.
something that gives binding force, as to an oath, rule of conduct, etc.
  1. a provision of a law enacting a penalty for disobedience or a reward for obedience.
  2. the penalty or reward.
International Law. action by one or more states toward another state calculated to force it to comply with legal obligations.
verb (used with object)
to authorize, approve, or allow:
an expression now sanctioned by educated usage.
to ratify or confirm:
to sanction a law.
to impose a sanction on; penalize, especially by way of discipline.
Origin of sanction
1555-65; < Latin sānctiōn- (stem of sānctiō), equivalent to sānct(us) (past participle of sancīre to prescribe by law) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
sanctionable, adjective
sanctionative, adjective
sanctioner, noun
sanctionless, adjective
nonsanction, noun
nonsanctioned, adjective
quasi-sanctioned, adjective
resanction, verb (used with object)
supersanction, verb (used with object), noun
unsanctionable, adjective
unsanctioned, adjective
unsanctioning, adjective
well-sanctioned, adjective
6. permit.
1. disapproval. 6. disapprove. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for unsanctioned
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He extended his hand in a dumb farewell, when, all unsanctioned by his will, the voice of despair escaped him in a low groan.

    The Grandissimes George Washington Cable
  • Not long before this a simple shepherd had been sentenced to be burned on account of unsanctioned preaching.

  • The next day I took an unsanctioned holiday after the morning's lecture.

    Tono Bungay H. G. Wells
  • Nothing awakens anger in hot blood sooner than an unsanctioned touch.

    The Light of Scarthey Egerton Castle
  • The consequence of this unsanctioned proceeding, was precisely what might have been expected.

  • All attempts to deviate from the natural way are, therefore, unsanctioned by the nature of things.

    The Mystery of Space Robert T. Browne
  • unsanctioned by any church were the books Dr. Michell starved his body to buy from Jews or other furtive dealers in unusual wares.

    The Thing from the Lake Eleanor M. Ingram
  • Gold in the end, unsanctioned by right divine, weighs up the other forces, supernatural as they are.

  • She had no idea of settling down into a commonplace engagement, sanctioned or unsanctioned.

British Dictionary definitions for unsanctioned


not having been given permission or authorization


final permission; authorization
aid or encouragement
something, such as an ethical principle, that imparts binding force to a rule, oath, etc
the penalty laid down in a law for contravention of its provisions
(often pl) a coercive measure, esp one taken by one or more states against another guilty of violating international law
verb (transitive)
to give authority to; permit
to make authorized; confirm
Derived Forms
sanctionable, adjective
sanctioner, noun
sanctionless, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Latin sanctiō the establishment of an inviolable decree, from sancīre to decree
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for unsanctioned



early 15c., "confirmation or enactment of a law," from Latin sanctionem (nominative sanctio) "act of decreeing or ordaining," also "decree, ordinance," noun of action from past participle stem of sancire "to decree, confirm, ratify, make sacred" (see saint (n.)). Originally especially of ecclesiastical decrees.


1778, "confirm by sanction, make valid or binding;" 1797 as "to permit authoritatively;" from sanction (n.). Seemingly contradictory meaning "impose a penalty on" is from 1956 but is rooted in an old legalistic sense of the noun. Related: Sanctioned; sanctioning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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