Definition of constitution noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

      

    constitution

     noun
    noun
    BrE BrE//ˌkɒnstɪˈtjuːʃn//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˌkɑːnstəˈtuːʃn//
     
     
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  1. 1[countable] the system of laws and basic principles that a state, a country or an organization is governed by your right to vote under the constitution According to the constitution… to propose a new amendment to the Constitution the South African Constitution A two-thirds majority is needed to amend the club’s constitution. Wordfindercabinet, checks and balances, constitution, federal, government, minister, the Opposition, parliament, politics, system Culturethe British ConstitutionBritain is a constitutional monarchy: it is ruled by a king or queen who accepts the advice of Parliament. It is also a parliamentary democracy, a country whose government is controlled by a parliament that has been elected by the people. The highest positions in government are taken by elected Members of Parliament, also called MPs. The king or queen now has little real power.The principles and procedures by which Britain is governed have developed over many centuries. They are not written down in a single document that can be referred to in a dispute. The British Constitution is made up of statute law (= laws agreed by Parliament), common law (= judges' decisions made in court and then written down) and conventions (= rules and practices that people cannot be forced to obey but which are considered necessary for efficient government). The Constitution can be altered by Acts of Parliament, or by general agreement.Similarly, there is no single document that lists people's rights. Some rights have been formally recognized by Parliament through laws, e.g. the right of a person not to be discriminated against (= treated differently) because of his or her sex. The Human Rights Act 1998 made all the rights established in the European Convention on Human Rights part of British law. It is generally understood that these rights are part of the Constitution.A government department, the Department for Constitutional Affairs, was set up in 2003 with responsibility for the areas of government where there are constitutional changes, for example the reforms in the House of Lords and relations with the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. In 2007 the duties of this department were taken over by the Ministry of Justice. Culture The US Constitution was created after the American Revolution when leaders from each state held a meeting called the Constitutional Convention to agree on a document describing the new system of government and limiting its powers, which was signed in 1789. This established the three branches of government: the legislative branch which consists of Congress, the judicial branch which is the Supreme Court and lower courts created by Congress and the executive branch which consists of the president, vice-president and government departments. The Constitution contains details about the responsibilities of each branch and who can be elected to Congress. It says that the US government is responsible for protecting individual states. Since 1789 there have been 27 amendments (= changes) to the Constitution including the Bill of Rights (1791) which promised citizens a number of rights such as the right to free speech and freedom of religion. There is sometimes disagreement about how to interpret the Constitution, some people believing that it is better to follow exactly what the Constitution says and others that it is necessary to consider what the intention of each part was and how that relates to the situation today. The Supreme Court can decide that a law is unconstitutional so that it cannot be used any more.
  2. 2[countable] the condition of a person’s body and how healthy it is to have a healthy/strong/weak constitution
  3. 3[uncountable, countable] (formal) the way something is formed or organized synonym structure the genetic constitution of cells
  4. 4[uncountable] (formal) the act of forming something synonym establishment He recommended the constitution of a review committee.
  5. Word Origin Middle English (denoting a law, or a body of laws or customs): from Latin constitutio(n-), from constituere ‘establish, appoint’, from con- ‘together’ + statuere ‘set up’.Extra examples Britain does not have a written constitution. Parliament will vote to amend the constitution. The child had a weak constitution and was always ill. The constitution stipulated that a general election must be held within 120 days. The constitution was suspended and the army was placed in full control. The new constitution will be adopted next year. The president felt free to interpret the constitution as he saw fit. The president’s actions violate the constitution. These principles are enshrined in the country’s constitution. These rights are established in the federal constitution. Under the constitution, an election must be called every five years. plans to draft a new constitution A two-thirds majority is needed to amend the club’s constitution. I have a strong constitution and my stomach can handle anything.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: constitution