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  1. the act of confederating.
  2. the state of being confederated.
  3. a league or alliance.
  4. a group of confederates, especially of states more or less permanently united for common purposes.
  5. the Confederation, the union of the 13 original U.S. states under the Articles of Confederation 1781–89.
  6. (initial capital letter) the federation of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, formed in 1867 and constituting the Dominion of Canada.
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Origin of confederation

1375–1425; late Middle English < Late Latin confoederātiōn- (stem of confoederātiō) an agreement, equivalent to confoederāt(us) confederate + -iōn- -ion
Related formscon·fed·er·a·tion·ism, nouncon·fed·er·a·tion·ist, nounan·ti·con·fed·er·a·tion·ism, nounan·ti·con·fed·er·a·tion·ist, noun, adjectivenon·con·fed·er·a·tion, noun

Synonyms for confederation

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Synonym study

3. See alliance.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for confederation

Contemporary Examples of confederation

Historical Examples of confederation

British Dictionary definitions for confederation


  1. the act or process of confederating or the state of being confederated
  2. a loose alliance of political units. The union of the Swiss cantons is the oldest surviving confederationCompare federation
  3. (esp in Canada) another name for federation
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Derived Formsconfederationism, nounconfederationist, nounconfederative, adjective


  1. the Confederation US history the original 13 states of the United States of America constituted under the Articles of Confederation and superseded by the more formal union established in 1789
  2. the federation of Canada, formed with four original provinces in 1867 and since joined by eight more
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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

Word Origin and History for confederation


early 15c., "act of confederating," from Middle French confédération, from Old French confederacion (14c.), from Late Latin confoederationem (nominative confoederatio), noun of action from confoederare (see confederate). Meaning "states or persons united by a league" is from 1620s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

confederation in Culture


A group of nations or states, or a government encompassing several states or political divisions, in which the component states retain considerable independence. The members of a confederation often delegate only a few powers to the central authority.

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The United States was governed as a confederation in the first few years of its independence (see Articles of Confederation).


Canada is officially a confederation of provinces.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.