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Word of the Day
Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Definitions for unalienable

  1. not transferable to another or not capable of being taken away or denied; inalienable: Inherent in the U.S. constitution is the belief that all people are born with an unalienable right to freedom.

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Citations for unalienable
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Thomas Jefferson, et al., United States Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
But there is one sentiment which runs through all his life--an intense love of freedom for all men; one idea, the idea that each man has Unalienable Rights. These are what may be called the American sentiment, and the American idea ... Theodore Parker, "John Quincy Adams," The Massachusetts Quarterly Review, Volume I, 1848
Origin of unalienable
Unalienable was first recorded in the early 1600s. Historians have pointed out that in a draft of the Declaration of Independence, its author Thomas Jefferson wrote “certain inherent and inalienable rights,” choosing to use alliteration. But Jefferson’s wording and spelling were later changed to “certain unalienable Rights.” To add to the apparent mystery, on a wall in the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., the phrase appears as “certain inalienable rights,” and inalienable is the spelling found in most modern quotations from the Declaration. In one way, the solution to the puzzle is simple: until sometime in the 1830s, unalienable was the overwhelmingly preferred spelling. But since then, inalienable gradually replaced it. Today, were it not for our annual commemoration of the Declaration of Independence, the spelling unalienable would be all but forgotten. In another way, the answer to the puzzle is less straightforward: it is evidence of the constantly competing and changing word forms found in English. There are many other examples of unruly rivalries involving the prefixes in- (from Latin) and un- (from Old and Middle English), both jostling for dominance in the formation of “not” compounds.