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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Rather than a unified central administration, there is a loose confederation of ministries.
▪ As the confederation moved toward constitutional government, issues of internal security were found to require careful consideration.
▪ Country size, for instance, appears to be related to the propensity to centralise collective bargaining authority within national confederations.
▪ On April 14 Clinton also secured the unanimous endorsement of the leadership of the AFL-CIO, the country's main labour confederation.
▪ The two trade union confederations undertook to refrain from general strikes in return for minimum wage and unemployment benefit guarantees.
▪ To the formation of a league, such as was the confederation, the state sovereignties were certainly competent.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Confederation \Con*fed`er*a"tion\, n. [L. confoederatio: cf. F. conf['e]d['e]ration.]

  1. The act of confederating; a league; a compact for mutual support; alliance, particularly of princes, nations, or states.

    The three princes enter into some strict league and confederation among themselves.

    This was no less than a political confederation of the colonies of New England.

  2. The parties that are confederated, considered as a unit; a confederacy.

    Articles of confederation. See under Article.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

early 15c., "act of confederating," from Middle French confédération, from Old French confederacion (14c.), from Late Latin confoederationem (nominative confoederatio), noun of action from confoederare (see confederate). Meaning "states or persons united by a league" is from 1620s.


n. 1 A union or alliance of states or political organizations. 2 The act of forming an alliance.

  1. n. the state of being allied or confederated [syn: alliance]

  2. a union of political organizations [syn: confederacy, federation]

  3. the act of forming an alliance or confederation [syn: alliance]


A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign states, united for purposes of common action often in relation to other states. Usually created by treaty, confederations of states tend to be established for dealing with critical issues, such as defence, foreign relations, internal trade or currency, with the general government being required to provide support for all its members. Confederalism represents a main form of inter-governmentalism, this being defined as ‘any form of interaction between states which takes place on the basis of sovereign independence'.

The nature of the relationship among the member states constituting a confederation varies considerably. Likewise, the relationship between the member states and the general government, and the distribution of powers among them is highly variable. Some looser confederations are similar to international organisations. Other confederations with stricter rules may resemble federal systems.

Since the member states of a confederation retain their sovereignty, they have an implicit right of secession. The political philosopher Emmerich Vattel observed: ‘Several sovereign and independent states may unite themselves together by a perpetual confederacy without each in particular ceasing to be a perfect state. … The deliberations in common will offer no violence to the sovereignty of each member’.

Under a confederal arrangement, in contrast with a federal one, the central authority is relatively weak. Decisions made by the general government in a unicameral legislature, a council of the member states, require subsequent implementation by the member states to take effect. They are therefore not laws acting directly upon the individual, but instead have more the character of inter-state agreements. Also, decision-making in the general government usually proceeds by consensus (unanimity) and not by majority, which makes for slow and inefficient government. These problematic features, limiting the effectiveness of the union, mean that political pressure tends to build over time for the transition to a federal system of government, as happened in the American, Swiss, German and European cases of regional integration.

Confederation (disambiguation)

Confederation may refer to:

  • Confederation, a political system, a confederation of states

Not to be confused with:

  • Federation, a political system, a federal state

See also:

  • Articles of Confederation
  • Confederate States of America
  • Confederation (Poland)
Confederation (Poland)
This article is about a legal concept, not a political union of territories ( confederation), also known in Poland as "konfederacja".

A konfederacja ( Polish for "confederation") was an ad hoc association formed by Polish-Lithuanian szlachta (nobility), clergy, cities, or military forces in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth for the attainment of stated aims. A konfederacja often took the form of an armed rebellion aimed at redressing perceived abuses or trespasses of some (e.g. royal) authority. Such "confederations" acted in lieu of state authority or to force their demands upon that authority. They could be seen as a primary expression of direct democracy and right of revolution in the Commonwealth, and as a way for the nobles to act on their grievances and against the state's central authority.

Usage examples of "confederation".

Only narrow gaps had been cleared through the interlaced abattis, and the Confederation infantry took heavy losses while threading slowly through the gaps.

To Adams, as he explained to Abigail, there were two especially knotty problems: If a confederation should take place, one great question is how shall we vote?

You allowed the Confederation Marines the chance to take cover from the rifles of the Badawi Siad.

On the lower Tigris near Al Amarah, a new tribal confederation, the Bani Lam, took root.

Siad did sing songs to honor the deeds of the Confederation Marine they called Siraj Bhats, and his bold men.

Its management worshipped the super-capitalist ethic, expanding aggressively, milking governments for development contracts, pressuring the assembly for ever more convenient tax breaks, spreading subsidiaries across the Confederation, shafting the opposition at every opportunity.

He tried to reduce complicated national issues to memorable slogans - the Vision, the National Development Policy, Unhyphenated Canadianism, the Confederation Platform, the Five-Year Plan, the Bill of Rights, proCanadianism - then represented himself as having a personal monopoly over the undeniably good things for which they stood.

The Articles of Confederation were established and ratified by the several States, either through conventions of their people or through the State Legislatures.

Constitution by direct act of the people in their conventions, instead of by act of their Legislatures, as in the adoption of the Articles of Confederation.

Bowles Cabot, the newly appointed Confederation Ambassador to Diamunde, who stood next to Degs Momyer, who would be Minister of Finance in the new government the Confederation was assembling to replace the directorial boards of the conglomerates.

He expressed his satisfaction through the medium of a letter I received from Duroc, who at the same time recommended me to continue informing the Emperor of all that was doing in Germany with relation to the plans of the Confederation of the North.

Metropolitan Eleison looked thunder and lightening at the two Confederation representatives.

Since those provinces were one country, or at least a close confederation, during the Etruscan period, the Medici encourage study of the Etruscans.

Existed Previous to Confederation of the Provinces--Proposals of Annexation to the United States--Lessons Learned by the Fenian Raid.

Yarim Paar was a grand building, housing the largest trade association in the province, a confederation of tile artisans, ceramicists, and glassblowers, as well as smiths of all sorts.