What does unilateral mean?

Definitions for unilateral
ˌyu nəˈlæt ər əluni·lat·er·al

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word unilateral.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. unilateral, one-sidedadjective

    involving only one part or side

    "unilateral paralysis"; "a unilateral decision"

  2. unilateraladjective

    tracing descent from either the paternal or the maternal line only


  1. unilateraladjective

    done by one side only

  2. unilateraladjective

    affecting only one side of the body

  3. unilateraladjective

    binding or affecting one party only


  1. unilateral

    Unilateralism is any doctrine or agenda that supports one-sided action. Such action may be in disregard for other parties, or as an expression of a commitment toward a direction which other parties may find disagreeable. As a word, unilateralism is attested from 1926, specifically relating to unilateral disarmament. The current, broader meaning emerges in 1964. It stands in contrast with multilateralism, the pursuit of foreign policy goals alongside allies. Unilateralism and multilateralism represent different policy approaches to international problems. When agreement by multiple parties is absolutely required—for example, in the context of international trade policies—bilateral agreements (involving two participants at a time) are usually preferred by proponents of unilateralism. Unilateralism may be preferred in those instances when it is assumed to be the most efficient, i.e., in issues that can be solved without cooperation. However, a government may also have a principal preference for unilateralism or multilateralism, and, for instance, strive to avoid policies that cannot be realized unilaterally or alternatively to champion multilateral solutions to problems that could well have been solved unilaterally. Unilateralism as first course of action can be viewed as an act of aggression or hard power, unilateral sanctions violate the United Nations Charter and inhibit development of developing countries.Unilateral action is often elected on behalf of independent leaders with nationalist tendencies and a strong distrust for the intentions of other countries' intervention. In recent years, unilateral action is adjacent with nationalism, protectionism and rejection towards institutions that embody multilateral approach. i.e, the United States adopting protectionist trade policy during the mi-2010s against the multilateral interests of the World Trade Organization.Unilateralism, if unprovoked, has the potential to disrupt the peaceful upholding of sovereignty and territorial integrity that global security depends upon. Unilateral coercive measures against smaller states put a strain on goals of sustainable development. Examples include arbitrarily imposed economic sanctions such as the United States embargo against Cuba.Typically, governments may argue that their ultimate or middle-term goals are served by a strengthening of multilateral schemes and institutions, as was many times the case during the period of the Concert of Europe.


  1. unilateral

    Unilateral refers to something that is done, decided, or performed by one person, side, party, or nation without the agreement, consultation, or participation of others. It often implies an action taken independently, often emphasizing the exclusion of others' involvement or the disregard for others' interests or concerns. This term can be used in various contexts such as politics, law, medicine, and biology.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Unilateraladjective

    being on one side only; affecting but one side; one-sided

  2. Unilateraladjective

    pertaining to one side; one-sided; as, a unilateral raceme, in which the flowers grow only on one side of a common axis, or are all turned to one side

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Unilateral

    ū-ni-lat′e-ral, adj. one-sided.—n. Unilateral′ity.—adv. Unilat′erally.

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  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of unilateral in Chaldean Numerology is: 4

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of unilateral in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

Examples of unilateral in a Sentence

  1. Federica Mogherini:

    We oppose any attempt to assert territorial or maritime claims through the use of intimidation, coercion, force or any unilateral actions which would cause further friction.

  2. Yannis Mouzalas:

    Many discuss how to handle a humanitarian crisis in Greece, which they themselves are trying to create, greece will not accept unilateral moves. Unilateral moves can also be made by Greece.

  3. Kim Kye Gwan:

    If the U.S. is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the DPRK-U.S. summit, we have already stated our intention for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and made clear on several occasions that precondition for denuclearization is to put an end to anti-DPRK hostile policy and nuclear threats and blackmail of the United States.

  4. Abdelkarim Khalaf:

    The Iraqi Prime Minister expressed The Iraqi Prime Minister strong objection to this unilateral decision and The Iraqi Prime Minister concern that it would lead to further escalation and demanded that he( Esper) stop it( airstrikes) immediately.

  5. Marco Rubio:

    By any objective measure, President Obama’s unilateral policy changes have failed, and they are not in the best interest of the American people or the people of Cuba, rolling back President Obama's one-sided concessions to the Castro regime, a key campaign promise shared with President-elect Trump, will be a top priority for me next year.

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Translations for unilateral

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"unilateral." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 21 Apr. 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/unilateral>.

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    directed outward; marked by interest in others or concerned with external reality
    A ultimo
    B extroversive
    C epidemic
    D foreordained

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