[ sangk-shuhn ]
See synonyms for: sanctionsanctionedsanctioningsanctions on

  1. authoritative permission or approval, as for an action.

  2. something that serves to support an action, condition, etc.

  1. something that gives binding force, as to an oath, rule of conduct, etc.

  2. Law.

    • a provision of a law enacting a penalty for disobedience or a reward for obedience.

    • the penalty or reward.

  3. International Law. action by one or more states toward another state calculated to force it to comply with legal obligations.

verb (used with object)
  1. to authorize, approve, or allow: an expression now sanctioned by educated usage.

  2. to ratify or confirm: to sanction a law.

  1. to impose a sanction on; penalize, especially by way of discipline.

Origin of sanction

First recorded in 1555–65; from Latin sānctiōn- (stem of sānctiō ), equivalent to sānct(us) (past participle of sancīre “to prescribe by law”) + -iōn- noun suffix; see -ion

Other words for sanction

Opposites for sanction

Other words from sanction

  • sanc·tion·a·ble, adjective
  • sanc·tion·a·tive, adjective
  • sanc·tion·er, noun
  • sanc·tion·less, adjective
  • non·sanc·tion, noun
  • re·sanc·tion, verb (used with object)
  • su·per·sanc·tion, verb (used with object), noun
  • un·sanc·tion·a·ble, adjective
  • un·sanc·tion·ing, adjective

Words Nearby sanction Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use sanction in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sanction


/ (ˈsæŋkʃən) /

  1. final permission; authorization

  2. aid or encouragement

  1. something, such as an ethical principle, that imparts binding force to a rule, oath, etc

  2. the penalty laid down in a law for contravention of its provisions

  3. (often plural) a coercive measure, esp one taken by one or more states against another guilty of violating international law

  1. to give authority to; permit

  2. to make authorized; confirm

Origin of sanction

C16: from Latin sanctiō the establishment of an inviolable decree, from sancīre to decree

Derived forms of sanction

  • sanctionable, adjective
  • sanctioner, noun
  • sanctionless, adjective

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