Word of the Day


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Origin of the word

Sanction comes from the Latin ‘sanctio’ which derives from ‘sancire’ meaning ‘to ratify’ and dates from the late 18th century. It was originally used with regard to ecclesiastical degrees.


Sanction is defined as the application of penalties targeted towards one or more countries by another country, individual or group. A sanction can be imposed for disobeying laws or rules and is often used as punishment or disciplinary action to bring about a change. Sanction is interesting linguistically as it is an auto-antonym, which means that it has multiple meanings, one of which is the opposite of the other. Indeed, sanction can also be used to mean receiving official approval or permission for an action.

Sanctions have been imposed upon the President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, by the US government. It is now forbidden for US firms and individuals to conduct business with Maduro after controverisal elections in Venezuela, the results of which have been criticized as fraudulent. The sanctions freeze any assets held by Maduro.
Maduro claimed that the poll was a ‘vote for the revolution’, and went on to say: ‘sanctions from the empire don’t scare me.’


An official order to stop communication, trade, etc. with a country that has broken international law.

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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