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[sov-rin, sov-er-in, suhv-] /ˈsɒv rɪn, ˈsɒv ər ɪn, ˈsʌv-/
a monarch; a king, queen, or other supreme ruler.
a person who has supreme power or authority.
a group or body of persons or a state having sovereign authority.
a gold coin of the United Kingdom, equal to one pound sterling: went out of circulation after 1914.
belonging to or characteristic of a sovereign or sovereign authority; royal.
having supreme rank, power, or authority.
supreme; preeminent; indisputable:
a sovereign right.
greatest in degree; utmost or extreme.
being above all others in character, importance, excellence, etc.
efficacious; potent:
a sovereign remedy.
Origin of sovereign
1250-1300; Middle English soverain (alteration by influence of reign) < Old French soverain < Vulgar Latin *superānus, equivalent to Latin super- super- + -ānus -an
Related forms
sovereignly, adverb
nonsovereign, noun, adjective
nonsovereignly, adverb
quasi-sovereign, adjective
subsovereign, noun, adjective
supersovereign, adjective, noun
undersovereign, noun
unsovereign, adjective
1. emperor, empress, potentate. 3. government. 5. regal, majestic, imperial, princely, monarchical, kingly, queenly. 7. chief, paramount, principal, predominant. 10. effective, effectual. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for sovereign
  • Governments getting loans from sovereign funds only makes the debt situation worse.
  • Perhaps that s why their governments sovereign funds are buying huge tracts of productive land in the tropics for food.
  • Insufficient measures to permit an escape from the adverse feedback loop between sovereign debt and bank debt.
  • Or use strategic partnerships and sovereign relationships to that.
  • They rightly see no reason why a sovereign country cannot develop next-generation defense systems which threaten no-one.
  • Counters resembling a sovereign and a half-sovereign.
  • Geographically there are two sovereign nations in between them.
  • Part of this is because of banking regulations and some of this is because they're not sure how to value the sovereign debt.
  • Some sovereign funds are also getting into the buy-out business.
  • The immediate source of trouble is the euro area, which is struggling to stop the spread of its sovereign-debt crisis.
British Dictionary definitions for sovereign


a person exercising supreme authority, esp a monarch
a former British gold coin worth one pound sterling
supreme in rank or authority: a sovereign lord
excellent or outstanding: a sovereign remedy
of, relating to, or characteristic of a sovereign
independent of outside authority: a sovereign state
Derived Forms
sovereignly, adverb
Word Origin
C13: from Old French soverain, from Vulgar Latin superānus (unattested), from Latin super above; also influenced by reign
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 sovereign

late 13c., "superior, ruler, master," from Old French soverain "sovereign, lord, ruler," noun use of adjective meaning "highest, supreme, chief" (see sovereign (adj.)). Meaning "gold coin worth 22s 6d" first recorded late 15c.; value changed 1817 to 1 pound.


early 14c., "great, superior, supreme," from Old French soverain "highest, supreme, chief," from Vulgar Latin *superanus "chief, principal" (source also of Spanish soberano, Italian soprano), from Latin super "over" (see super-). Spelling influenced by folk-etymology association with reign. Milton spelled it sovran, as though from Italian sovrano. Of remedies or medicines, "potent in a high degree," from late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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