Definition of countermand in English:



[with object]
  • 1Revoke or cancel (an order)

    ‘an order to arrest the strike leaders had been countermanded’
    • ‘Moreover, he countermanded the orders of Major General John E. Wool as to the disposal of some of his troops.’
    • ‘The bank's mandate to pay is terminated if the customer countermands his order.’
    • ‘This put the newspaper out of business until the order was countermanded.’
    • ‘When the division could still have attacked with some effect, the order was suddenly countermanded and its precious armour dispersed by the new local corps commander.’
    • ‘So a New York Times reporter ended up with her own direct line to the Pentagon, allowing her to countermand the orders of commanders in the field?’
    • ‘Then the second section turns to some specific issues - how payment obligations are discharged, whether payment instructions can be countermanded, the availability of funds to payees, and the completion of payment as between banks.’
    • ‘Schimmelfennig then countermanded his orders and sent the 82nd to face west and form a line-of-battle behind which the rest of the brigade would form.’
    • ‘Eoin MacNeill, chief of staff of Irish Volunteers, then countermanded the mobilization orders given by Pearse.’
    • ‘That was the air force's recommendation and the President obviously saw no reason to countermand it.’
    • ‘Before the tanks had set off, this order was countermanded once it was clear that they would not be able to reach Charleroi fast enough.’
    • ‘He ordered the police to open fire on the demonstrators but the party's frightened Politburo countermanded the order.’
    • ‘Jefferson Davis countermanded his order for the evacuation of Vicksburg, and, as he had feared, he proved unable to relieve the city.’
    • ‘The ex-chief retained the loyalty of the rank-and-file, however, and the result was a successor who would find his own directives being countermanded by his predecessor.’
    • ‘On being advised of the ANZAC landings, he countermanded an Army Commander order after vacillation by the German army commander, force-marching two battalions to the ANZAC area.’
    • ‘Speer moved against Hitler by countermanding his orders and other forms of sabotage.’
    • ‘The CEO set the agenda, and while the board may have questioned the boss's decisions, it rarely countermanded them.’
    • ‘They are all issuing commands, countermanding each other.’
    • ‘Only a court intervention could countermand Bloomberg's order.’
    • ‘A servant is sent to try to countermand the order, but Lear enters with Cordelia in his arms.’
    • ‘When McAuliffe finally learned of the 333rd Artillery Group commander's order, he countermanded it immediately and sent word to the displacing units to return to their former positions.’
    revoke, rescind, reverse, undo, repeal, retract, withdraw, take back, abrogate, abolish, quash, scrap, override, overturn, overrule, do away with, set aside, cancel, annul, invalidate, nullify, negate, veto, declare null and void
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Revoke or cancel an order issued by (another person)
      ‘he was already countermanding her’
      • ‘Raven countermanded me and ordered the helm hard over while lowering the sail, and the hands, afraid of her, did what she said.’
      • ‘Highly trained specialists, they relied on their professional ethics to help manage the tricky business of judging and sometimes countermanding the clients who paid the bills.’
      • ‘You should go with the professor and protect him,’ Turner countermanded Junior.’
      • ‘He has apparently called for support from all over the country to make a stand against the Americans, and the Premier is trying to countermand him.’
      • ‘The moment he detected any possible weaknesses in the statements of his envoys in Pakistan or elsewhere he was swift to countermand them.’
      • ‘More than once I have been offered cognac and said no, only to be countermanded by the stranger sitting next to me that actually, yes, the lady will have a glass of cognac.’
      • ‘They are all issuing commands, countermanding each other.’
    2. 1.2 Declare (a vote or election) invalid.
      ‘the election commission has countermanded voting on the grounds of intimidation’
      • ‘The three aspirants are already out of the race as elections in their constituencies had been countermanded.’
      • ‘The president demanded that the EC observer and state Chief Electoral Officer countermand the elections to stop the declaration of results tomorrow.’
      • ‘The last time elections were held there, dozens of people were killed, requiring polls to be countermanded and new ones ordered.’


  • An order revoking a previous one.

    ‘I forthwith mounted, and went off, lest I should receive a countermand’
    • ‘The other main problem concerning the contract between the issuer and the card-holder is that of countermand of payment.’
    • ‘As a collection of texts, Scripture is capable of holding both a point and its countermand.’
    • ‘Schumann is represented by his Romances, originally for oboe, published also for clarinet, despite the composer's express countermand.’
    • ‘However, we have seen that countermand must be explicit and generally given to the branch of the bank where the account is kept.’
    • ‘Countermand is precluded once the card-holder has given his signature.’
    • ‘Had the countermand order been given at 0745, as the standard scenario holds, the torpedoes almost certainly would have been restored by 0920.’
    • ‘S. L. Chang, director of the ministry's Department of National Treasury, said her department was considering a payment countermand on the stolen bonds.’
    • ‘It indicated that the countermanding, in order to get out of it, has to be unequivocal and the greatest countermand that one can offer.’
    • ‘In jurisdictions where a cheque can be backed by a guarantee card, there cannot be countermand.’


Late Middle English: from Old French contremander (verb), contremand (noun), from medieval Latin contramandare, from contra- ‘against’ + mandare ‘to order’.