9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[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 sanction
  • The panel has the option of recommending treatment, a small fine, or no sanction.
  • The twilight-realm of phantasy is upheld by the sanction of humanity and every hungry soul looks here for help and sympathy.
  • Because of the dangers, dive organizations refuse to sanction no-limits diving.
  • They can go abroad, to countries where the authorities sanction or ignore payments to living donors.
  • Above all, it is a popular practice that took hold without magisterial sanction.
  • There is no political settlement to be had with those who base their views on divine sanction.
  • It has its pick of partners and can easily sanction those that don't cooperate with it.
  • There is no sanction if their parents refuse to take them.
  • The sanction for those countries that don't produce enough self-critical jokes is a simple one: they will be ignored.
  • It means, of course, that someone should escape legal sanction if he or she kills them or is party to killing them.
British Dictionary definitions for sanction


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 sanction

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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