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[vee-toh] /ˈvi toʊ/
noun, plural vetoes. Also called veto power (for defs 1, 4).
the power or right vested in one branch of a government to cancel or postpone the decisions, enactments, etc., of another branch, especially the right of a president, governor, or other chief executive to reject bills passed by the legislature.
the exercise of this right.
Also called veto message. a document exercising such right and setting forth the reasons for such action.
a nonconcurring vote by which one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council can overrule the actions or decisions of the meeting on matters other than procedural.
an emphatic prohibition of any sort.
verb (used with object), vetoed, vetoing.
to reject (a proposed bill or enactment) by exercising a veto.
to prohibit emphatically.
Origin of veto
First recorded in 1620-30, veto is from the Latin word vetō I forbid
Related forms
vetoer, noun
preveto, noun, plural prevetoes, verb (used with object), prevetoed, prevetoing.
reveto, verb (used with object), revetoed, revetoing.
unvetoed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for veto
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He used his veto on the laws, for instance, and otherwise exercised his prerogatives.

    Homeward Bound James Fenimore Cooper
  • For if the English Parliament have the power to veto our wishes, where's the difference?

    Ireland as It Is Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
  • And the Turkish nation had no opportunity to sanction or veto their resolve.

    England and Germany Emile Joseph Dillon
  • An important act of the legislature awaited his signature or veto.

    David Dunne

    Belle Kanaris Maniates
  • An effort was made to carry it over the Governor's veto, but it failed.

British Dictionary definitions for veto


noun (pl) -toes
the power to prevent legislation or action proposed by others; prohibition: the presidential veto
the exercise of this power
(US, government) Also called veto message. a document containing the reasons why a chief executive has vetoed a measure
verb (transitive) -toes, -toing, -toed
to refuse consent to (a proposal, esp a government bill)
to prohibit, ban, or forbid: her parents vetoed her trip
Derived Forms
vetoer, noun
vetoless, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin: I forbid, from vetāre to forbid
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 veto

1620s, from Latin veto, literally "I forbid," first person singular present indicative of vetare "forbid," of unknown origin. Used by Roman tribunes who opposed measures of the Senate or magistrates.


1706, from veto (n.). Related: Vetoed; vetoing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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veto in Culture

veto definition

A vote that blocks a decision. In the United Nations, for example, each of the five permanent members of the Security Council has the power of veto.

veto definition

The power of a president or governor to reject a bill proposed by a legislature by refusing to sign it into law. The president or governor actually writes the word veto (Latin for “I forbid”) on the bill and sends it back to the legislature with a statement of his or her objections. The legislature may choose to comply by withdrawing or revising the bill, or it can override the veto and pass the law, by a two-thirds vote in each house.

Note: Originally intended to prevent Congress from passing unconstitutional laws, the veto is now used by the president as a powerful bargaining tool, especially when his objectives conflict with majority sentiment in Congress. (See also checks and balances.)
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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