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sanction (n.)

early 15c., "confirmation or enactment of a law," from Latin sanctionem (nominative sanctio) "act of decreeing or ordaining," also "decree, ordinance," noun of action from past-participle stem of sancire "to decree, confirm, ratify, make sacred" (see saint (n.)). Originally especially of ecclesiastical decrees.

sanction (v.)

1778, "confirm by sanction, make valid or binding;" 1797 as "to permit authoritatively;" from sanction (n.). Seemingly contradictory meaning "impose a penalty on" is from 1956 but is rooted in an old legalistic sense of the noun. Related: Sanctioned; sanctioning.

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Definitions of sanction from WordNet
1
sanction (n.)
formal and explicit approval;
sanction (n.)
a mechanism of social control for enforcing a society's standards;
sanction (n.)
official permission or approval;
sanction (n.)
the act of final authorization;
it had the sanction of the church
2
sanction (v.)
give sanction to;
Synonyms: approve / O.K. / okay
sanction (v.)
give authority or permission to;
sanction (v.)
give religious sanction to, such as through on oath;
From wordnet.princeton.edu