Duhaime's Law Dictionary Sanction Definition: To sanction can mean to ratify or to approve but it can also mean to punish. The sanction of a crime refers to the actual punishment, usually expressed as a fine or jail term. This is a very unusual word with two contradictory meanings. To sanction can mean to endorse, to ratify or to approve but confusingly, it can also mean to reprimand or punish. The sanction of a crime refers to the actual punishment, usually expressed as a fine or jail term. In Re National Bank of Wales, Justice Lindley noted that: "Sanction ... means approval and implies a power of disapproval." Or Justice Biggs of the United States District Court (Delaware) Johns v Allen, at Footnote #5: "To sanction can mean and we use the phrase here to mean to give approval to, to give countenance to." Conversely, in R. v Frederickson, Judge Saunderson of the British Columbia Provincial Court adopted these words to describe sanction: "... the specific penalty enacted in order to enforce obedience to a law (and) the part or clause of a law which declares the penalty attached to infringement thereof." REFERENCES: Johns v. Allen, 231 F. Supp. 852 (1964) Re National Bank of Wales, 66 Ch. 222 (1897) R. v. Frederickson, 2002 BCPC 134 Categories & Topics: Duhaime's Criminal Law Dictionary Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only) If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!