sanction

Sanction has two nearly opposite meanings: to sanction can be to approve of something, but it can also mean to punish, or speak harshly to. Likewise, a sanction can be a punishment or approval. Very confusing––the person who invented this word should be publicly sanctioned!

See if you can guess the meaning of sanction in the following contexts. Before invading Iraq, the US and its allies first imposed sanctions on the country, refusing to supply the country with much-needed trade items. Did you guess sanction=punishment? You were right! But by trading with China at the same time, the US quietly sanctioned that nation's known instances of human rights abuses. Did you guess sanction=approval? You're right again!

DEFINITIONS OF: sanction

1

n official permission or approval

Synonyms:
authorisation, authority, authorization
Type of:
permission
approval to do something

n formal and explicit approval

Synonyms:
countenance, endorsement, imprimatur, indorsement, warrant
Types:
O.K., OK, okay, okeh, okey
an endorsement
visa
an endorsement made in a passport that allows the bearer to enter the country issuing it
nihil obstat
the phrase used by the official censor of the Roman Catholic Church to say that a publication has been examined and contains nothing offensive to the church
Type of:
approval, commendation
a message expressing a favorable opinion

n the act of final authorization

“it had the sanction of the church”
Types:
benefit of clergy
sanction by a religious rite
name
by the sanction or authority of
nihil obstat
authoritative approval
Type of:
authorisation, authorization, empowerment
the act of conferring legality or sanction or formal warrant

n a mechanism of social control for enforcing a society's standards

Type of:
social control
control exerted (actively or passively) by group action

v give authority or permission to

Type of:
authorise, authorize, empower
give or delegate power or authority to

v give sanction to

Synonyms:
O.K., approve, okay
Antonyms:
disapprove, reject
deem wrong or inappropriate
Types:
show 5 types...
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visa
approve officially
back, endorse, indorse, plump for, plunk for, support
be behind; approve of
confirm
support a person for a position
guarantee, warrant
stand behind and guarantee the quality, accuracy, or condition of
champion, defend
protect or fight for as a champion
Type of:
authorise, authorize, clear, pass
grant authorization or clearance for

v give religious sanction to, such as through on oath

Type of:
O.K., approve, okay
give sanction to
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