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early 15c., "act of confederating," from Middle French confédération, from Old French confederacion (14c.), from Late Latin confoederationem (nominative confoederatio), noun of action from confoederare (see confederate). Meaning "states or persons united by a league" is from 1620s.
A group of nations or states, or a government encompassing several states or political divisions, in which the component states retain considerable independence. The members of a confederation often delegate only a few powers to the central authority.
Note: The United States was governed as a confederation in the first few years of its independence (see Articles of Confederation).
Note: Canada is officially a confederation of provinces.