Sovereign Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

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The word sovereign is generally used in lieu of “grand master” for the supreme head of various orders of European nations. So, what exactly does it mean, and where did it come from? 

In this article, we’re exploring the word sovereign to uncover its definition, origin, usage, and more. So, if you’re interested in learning about this interesting term, keep reading. 

What Is the Definition of Sovereign?

/ˈsɑːv.rən/ /ˈsɒv.ər.ɪn/ /ˈsɑv·rən/ /ˈsɑv·ər·ən/

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, our word of the day, sovereign, has many uses — both as an adjective and as a noun. 

So, to nip this in the bud and save everyone reading at home from any future headaches, we have compiled a list below of the various meanings behind sovereign and a few examples as well.

Sovereign as a Noun

  • A monarch — this can be a queen, a king, or any other supreme ruler

  • A person that has sovereign authority or sovereign power

  • A body of persons, state, or group that has sovereign authority

  • In economics 

Sovereign as an Adjective

  • Potent or efficacious — for example; a sovereign remedy

  • Indisputable, supreme, or preeminent — an example of this would be a sovereign right

  • Independent of any outside authority — a sovereign state would be a prime example of this usage

  • Supreme in authority or in rank — for example; a sovereign lord

Though it is no longer minted for circulation, a sovereign also refers to a British gold coin used within the United Kingdom worth 20 shillings or one pound sterling. 

This form of currency formerly used in Great Britain is now worth more than its weight in gold due primarily to not being in circulation since 1914. 

What Words Contain Sovereign?

Additionally, you may run into a few words formed from our word of the day, so we went ahead and listed some of the more commonly used ones for you to review below:

  • Adverb — non·sov·er·eign·ly

  • Adjective/Noun — sub·sov·er·eign

  • Adverb — sov·er·eign·ly

  • Adjective — qua·si-sov·er·eign

  • Noun/Adjective — su·per·sov·er·eign

  • Noun/Adjective — non·sov·er·eign

  • Noun — un·der·sov·er·eign

  • Adjective — un·sov·er·eign

What Is the Etymology of Sovereign?

The Middle English soverain was first coined in the late 13th century and was derived from both the Vulgar Latin superānus, as well as the Old French soverain. 

It should also be noted that its spelling has changed over time due to its folk-etymology association with the word — reign

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Sovereign?

Now that you understand what sovereign means, let’s take a look at a few synonyms and antonyms, shall we?

Synonyms of of Sovereign

  • Self-governing 
  • Chief
  • Principal
  • Leading
  • Supreme 
  • Head of state
  • Supreme ruler
  • Foremost
  • Dominant
  • Main
  • Primary 
  • Supreme power
  • Predominant 
  • Paramount
  • Central
  • Key
  • Premier 
  • Cardinal
  • Numero uno 
  • Potentate 
  • Royal
  • Regal
  • Monarchal
  • Princely
  • Crown prince 
  • Baronial
  • Most reliable 
  • Genteel
  • Lordly
  • Crowned head
  • Grand duke
  • Liege lord
  • Prince regent 
  • Royal duke 
  • Highbred
  • Most significant 
  • Upper class
  • Sovran
  • Great
  • Tried and true
  • Wellborn
  • Highbred 
  • Blue-blooded
  • Aristocratic 
  • Kingly
  • Queenly 
  • Upper crust 
  • Independent 
  • Autonomous
  • Free
  • Top dog
  • Lord and master
  • Bossman 
  • Mother of all 
  • Separate
  • Free standing
  • Self-ruling
  • Self-sufficient
  • Excellent  
  • Efficient
  • Helpful
  • Efficacious
  • Practical
  • Productive
  • Useful
  • Schmick
  • Capital
  • Fantastic
  • Superb 
  • First-class

Antonyms of Sovereign

  • Last
  • Least
  • Inferior
  • Limited
  • Minor
  • Restricted
  • Secondary
  • Submissive
  • Littlest
  • Nonessential
  • Trivial
  • Dependent
  • Captive
  • Nonautonomous
  • To no avail
  • To no effect
  • Anticlimactic
  • Unfit
  • Impotent
  • Inept
  • Most inferior
  • Second class
  • Second rate
  • Lesser
  • Undistinguished
  • Awful
  • Pathetic
  • Subordinate
  • Acting
  • Supporting 
  • Provisional
  • Conditional
  • Codicillary
  • Contingent
  • Common 
  • Humble
  • Regular
  • Simple
  • Minor
  • Plebby
  • Prole 

How Can You Use Sovereign in a Sentence?

A sovereign can refer to a king or queen as well as a British gold coin — but do you know how to use it in a sentence? Not to worry; here are some sentence examples for you to study below:

“You can dream of a sovereign state and self-determination all you want, but unless we stand up together, we will all remain under their rule.” 

“Timothy really fancies himself a sovereign citizen when really he is just a radical with one foot in the grave. “

“Apparently China’s questionable activities are within their sovereign rights.”

“India is a proud and Sovereign country!”

“How are you not watching this with great concern? Honestly, the sovereign debt crisis is really starting to raise a lot of eyebrows — wake up!” 

“Did you know that the Vatican is the smallest sovereign state in the world?”

“Mr. Mathews told us that Beijing has claimed sovereignty over the island of Taiwan since their break-up at the end of the Chinese civil war back in 1949.”

“Enrique Iglasias, sovereign of Latin pop culture, is back and ready to rock!”

What Are the Translations of Sovereign?

Wondering how to say sovereign in a different language? We’ve got you covered. 

Translations of sovereign when used as a noun:

  • American English — sovereign  
  • Brazilian Portuguese — soberano 
  • Chinese (simplified) — 元首
  • Japanese — 君主
  • Korean — 군주
  • European Portuguese — soberano 
  • Spanish — soberano 
  • British English — sovereign
  • Thai — กษัตริย์ พระราชินี หรือผู้มีอำนาจสูงสุดในการปกครองประเทศ
  • European Spanish — soberano 
  • French — souverain 
  • German — Herrscher 
  • Italian — sovrano

Translations of sovereign when used as an adjective: 

  • Italian — sovrano 
  • Japanese — 独立の
  • Korean — 독립된
  • European Portuguese — soberano 
  • Spanish — soberano 
  • British English — sovereign
  • American English — sovereign  
  • Brazilian Portuguese — soberano 
  • Chinese (simplified) — 具有独立主权的
  • European Spanish — soberano 
  • French — souverain 
  • German — souverän
  • Thai — ที่มีอธิปไตยเป็นของตนเอง


In short, sovereign can be used as either a noun or adjective. 

When used as a noun, sovereign simply refers to the queen or king. When used as an adjective, on the other hand, our word of the day can be used to refer to a self-governing country or state, as well as the institution or power that has the highest power in that state or country.  


SOVEREIGN: definition | The Cambridge English Dictionary 

Sovereign definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary

Sovereign Definition & Meaning | Britannica Dictionary