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Synonyms of sanction in English:


  • 1 trade sanctions
    penalty, punishment, deterrent;
    punitive action, discipline, restriction;
    embargo, ban, prohibition, boycott
    [Antonyms] reward
  • 2 the scheme has the sanction of the court
    authorization, consent, leave, permission, authority, warrant, license, dispensation, assent, acquiescence, agreement, approval, approbation, endorsement, accreditation, ratification, validation, blessing, imprimatur
    informal go-ahead, OK, green light
    [Antonyms] prohibition
  • verb

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  • 1 the rally was sanctioned by the government
    authorize, permit, allow, warrant, accredit, license, endorse, approve, accept, back, support
    informal OK
    [Antonyms] prohibit
  • 2 the penalties available to sanction crime
    punish, discipline someone for
  • Reflections


    A rare Janus word that means both one thing and its opposite, or antonym. A sanction is the endorsement or approval of a course of action— I sanction this plan—and also (usually plural) coercive measures designed to oppose a course of action: The UN imposed sanctions on Iraq. Other examples of words with diametrically opposed meanings are cleave—to separate forcefully, and to adhere or cling to—and oversight—supervision, the act of watching over, and failure to notice, the act of overlooking.
    Jean Strouse
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