Why was clemency trending last week?


[sangk-shuh n] /ˈsæŋk ʃən/
authoritative permission or approval, as for an action.
something that serves to support an action, condition, etc.
something that gives binding force, as to an oath, rule of conduct, etc.
  1. a provision of a law enacting a penalty for disobedience or a reward for obedience.
  2. the penalty or reward.
International Law. action by one or more states toward another state calculated to force it to comply with legal obligations.
verb (used with object)
to authorize, approve, or allow:
an expression now sanctioned by educated usage.
to ratify or confirm:
to sanction a law.
to impose a sanction on; penalize, especially by way of discipline.
Origin of sanction
1555-65; < Latin sānctiōn- (stem of sānctiō), equivalent to sānct(us) (past participle of sancīre to prescribe by law) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
sanctionable, adjective
sanctionative, adjective
sanctioner, noun
sanctionless, adjective
nonsanction, noun
nonsanctioned, adjective
quasi-sanctioned, adjective
resanction, verb (used with object)
supersanction, verb (used with object), noun
unsanctionable, adjective
unsanctioned, adjective
unsanctioning, adjective
well-sanctioned, adjective
6. permit.
1. disapproval. 6. disapprove. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for sanctions
  • The commission wants to bring sanctions in earlier, before a full-blown crisis develops.
  • Both countries subsequently announced moratoriums on tests after the imposition of economic sanctions.
  • It's not too far fetched to think that all addictions can be managed, with conditions, but without criminal sanctions for use.
  • Now it also sanctions some of the world's silliest stunts.
  • Industry groups say they will continue to push for criminal sanctions against intellectual-property thieves at the national level.
  • Neither has much truck with sanctions anyway, since both have suffered from them in the past.
  • But the off site support to these struggling people, warrants severe review,and probable sanctions.
  • Due to trade sanctions and other issues, no dot-iq domains are currently active.
  • The tax-havens listing identifies money launderers and outlines the sanctions to be taken against them.
  • Which makes the regime less susceptible to foreign sanctions.
British Dictionary definitions for sanctions


final permission; authorization
aid or encouragement
something, such as an ethical principle, that imparts binding force to a rule, oath, etc
the penalty laid down in a law for contravention of its provisions
(often pl) a coercive measure, esp one taken by one or more states against another guilty of violating international law
verb (transitive)
to give authority to; permit
to make authorized; confirm
Derived Forms
sanctionable, adjective
sanctioner, noun
sanctionless, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Latin sanctiō the establishment of an inviolable decree, from sancīre to decree
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 sanctions

in international diplomacy, 1919, plural of sanction (n.) in the sense of "part or clause of a law which spells out the penalty for breaking it" (1650s).



early 15c., "confirmation or enactment of a law," from Latin sanctionem (nominative sanctio) "act of decreeing or ordaining," also "decree, ordinance," noun of action from past participle stem of sancire "to decree, confirm, ratify, make sacred" (see saint (n.)). Originally especially of ecclesiastical decrees.


1778, "confirm by sanction, make valid or binding;" 1797 as "to permit authoritatively;" from sanction (n.). Seemingly contradictory meaning "impose a penalty on" is from 1956 but is rooted in an old legalistic sense of the noun. Related: Sanctioned; sanctioning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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