Meaning of “sanction” in the English Dictionary

"sanction" in British English

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sanctionnoun

uk /ˈsæŋk.ʃən/ us /ˈsæŋk.ʃən/

sanction noun (ORDER)

[ C usually plural ] an official order, such as the stopping of trade, that is taken against a country in order to make it obey international law:

Many nations have imposed sanctions on the country because of its attacks on its own people.
Trade/economic sanctions will only be lifted (= stopped) when the aggressor nation withdraws its troops.

C2 [ C ] a strong action taken in order to make people obey a law or rule, or a punishment given when they do not obey:

Without realistic sanctions, some teachers have difficulty keeping order in the classroom.

More examples

  • A package of economic sanctions is to be enacted against the country.
  • The UN has imposed punitive sanctions on the invading country.
  • The UN announced its intentions to toughen sanctions still further.
  • She is in favour of a relaxation of the sanctions.
  • People were surprised at the time by the severity of the sanctions.

sanctionverb [ T ]

uk /ˈsæŋk.ʃən/ us /ˈsæŋk.ʃən/

(Definition of “sanction” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"sanction" in American English

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sanctionnoun

us /ˈsæŋk·ʃən/

sanction noun (APPROVAL)

[ U ] fml approval or permission:

To be just, a government must have the sanction of the governed.
Note: usually describes formal or legal approval

sanction noun (PUNISHMENT)

[ C usually pl ] an official action taken against a government to force it to behave in a particular way or as punishment for not doing so:

trade/economic sanctions

sanctionverb [ T ]

us /ˈsæŋk·ʃən/

sanction verb [ T ] (PERMIT)

to formally permit something:

The UN sanctioned intervention in the crisis.

(Definition of “sanction” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"sanction" in Business English

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sanctionnoun

uk /ˈsæŋkʃən/ us

[ C, usually plural ] POLITICS an official order to stop or limit trade or communication with a country in order to make it obey international law:

sanctions on sth This averted the threat of American sanctions on Japanese car exports.
impose sanctions against/on sb The UN Security Council imposed sanctions on the country to curb its nuclear program.
drop/ease/lift sanctions
apply/enforce sanctions
international sanctions

[ C ] LAW a punishment given when someone does not obey a rule or a law:

criminal/legal sanctions
The State Department needs to determine how it will apply sanctions.
He could face sanctions if a judge concludes he violated the terms of his probation.

[ U ] LAW formal or legal approval or permission:

sanction for sth Agricultural companies in the area cannot get official sanction for logging.

sanctionverb [ T ]

uk /ˈsæŋkʃən/ us

to formally give permission for something:

sanction a bid/deal The directors would only sanction an €18 million bid.
The government has sanctioned 20% income tax relief .

LAW to punish someone for not obeying a law or rule:

sanction sb for (doing) sth The state is threatening to sanction employers for hiring illegal workers.

(Definition of “sanction” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)