[ vee-toh ]
See synonyms for: vetovetoed on

noun,plural ve·toes.Also called veto power (for defs. 1, 4).
  1. 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.

  2. the exercise of this right.

  1. Also called veto message. a document exercising such right and setting forth the reasons for such action.

  2. 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.

  3. an emphatic prohibition of any sort.

verb (used with object),ve·toed, ve·to·ing.
  1. to reject (a proposed bill or enactment) by exercising a veto.

  2. to prohibit emphatically.

Origin of veto

First recorded in 1620–30, veto is from the Latin word vetō I forbid

Other words from veto

  • ve·to·er, noun
  • pre·ve·to, noun, plural pre·ve·toes, verb (used with object), pre·ve·toed, pre·ve·to·ing.
  • re·ve·to, verb (used with object), re·ve·toed, re·ve·to·ing.
  • un·ve·toed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use veto in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for veto


/ (ˈviːtəʊ) /

nounplural -toes
  1. the power to prevent legislation or action proposed by others; prohibition: the presidential veto

  2. the exercise of this power

  1. Also called: veto message US government a document containing the reasons why a chief executive has vetoed a measure

verb-toes, -toing or -toed (tr)
  1. to refuse consent to (a proposal, esp a government bill)

  2. to prohibit, ban, or forbid: her parents vetoed her trip

Origin of veto

C17: from Latin: I forbid, from vetāre to forbid

Derived forms of veto

  • vetoer, noun
  • vetoless, 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

Cultural definitions for veto (1 of 2)


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.


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.

Notes for veto

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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.