Definition of union in English:



  • 1mass noun The action of joining together or the fact of being joined together, especially in a political context.

    ‘he was opposed to closer political or economic union with Europe’
    count noun ‘a currency union between the two countries’
    • ‘A task force was created to draft a plan of union, and a timeline was proposed.’
    • ‘Grafted roses can put out suckers from the rootstock below the bud union.’
    • ‘Even EU President Romano Prodi has said he views economic union as going hand in hand with political union.’
    • ‘Nearer home, there were attempts from 1947 onwards to form a political and economic union of Western Europe.’
    • ‘But there were huge differences between Ireland and the others, the key one being our political and currency union with Germany.’
    • ‘The vision of a socialist economic and political union includes a single currency, but not as others know it.’
    • ‘Budding is usually done at ground level, and often times the rootstock will send up shoots from below the bud union.’
    • ‘Political and economic union have not developed swiftly or easily, and the development of a common intelligence policy is likely to be similar.’
    • ‘Plant the roots so the bud union or graft is 2 inches below the ground level.’
    • ‘At the Council of Ferrara-Florence in 1438-39 the union of the churches was finally realised.’
    • ‘In fact, the UK has probably passed the point of maximum political returns for joining the single currency union.’
    • ‘This fact of currency union renders all the sophistry of the Chancellor's five tests otiose.’
    • ‘In one case, actors of each kind were joined together in near-Siamese union, each performing in his own way.’
    • ‘Economic and political union cannot be separated.’
    • ‘After World War II, the Grand Duchy became an active participant in the process of forming economic and political union within Europe.’
    • ‘Your description seems more in keeping with the union of opposites and elements in alchemy.’
    • ‘This is about - not just about economic monetary union, it's about political union as well.’
    • ‘The monetary union furthermore operates with a central bank whose primary concern is to combat inflation.’
    • ‘More than a political and economic union, the EU represents a community of values.’
    • ‘The point is that I also think it quite reasonable to not want to join in closer political union with the EU.’
    unification, uniting, joining, merging, merger, fusion, fusing, amalgamating, amalgamation, junction, coalition, combining, combination, consolidation, conjunction, confederation, federation, integration, synthesis, blend, blending, mixture, mingling, commingling
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    1. 1.1the Unionhistorical The uniting of the English and Scottish crowns in 1603, of the English and Scottish parliaments in 1707, or of the parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801.
    2. 1.2 A state of harmony or agreement.
      ‘they live in perfect union’
      • ‘The union makes perfect sense - rai is both Algeria's punk music and its signature dance music.’
      • ‘So while protecting ourselves abroad, let us form a more perfect union here at home.’
      • ‘Everything in it, on the level of staging, lighting, cutting and framing, creates that sense and sensation of perfect union, of the oneness of the lovers.’
      • ‘To balance this he remained a staunch member of the Church of England and a firm believer in the indissoluble union between Church and State.’
      • ‘The voices spoke in perfect union; men, women and children each spoke with their own voice, all equal in death.’
      • ‘Individuals of both, mingling with the citizens, disseminated principles of union among them.’
      • ‘They envisioned a more perfect union with freedom, liberty, justice, and equality for all Americans.’
      • ‘He begins with the Zen garden, ‘quintessentially a place for meditation, the perfect union of nature and contrivance’.’
      • ‘The idea of incorporation brings organic relationship into the present and the future by aspiring to a more perfect union, human and divine.’
      • ‘Earthly marriage reveals new measures of his grace and glory to those made one in him, while also mirroring the more perfect union of God with his people.’
      • ‘And he exists in perfect love and union with the Father.’
      • ‘The final goal of Shaivism is realizing one's identity with Shiva in perfect union and non-differentiation (monism).’
      • ‘It's not one of denial, it's one of bringing the body and the mind into perfect unity and union.’
      • ‘Then there are the Buddhas: the spiritual union of perfect oneness beyond speech.’
      • ‘The right wine can create a delightful union with a roast and companion dish.’
      • ‘Ultimately, we tear our spirits out of our bodies as our way of declaring harmonious union.’
      • ‘Young notes the sexual imagery in the poem as a representation of the ‘perfect union between poet and image.’’
      • ‘Looking at Hong Kong designers and brands, we see a perfect, seamless union of tradition and innovation.’
      • ‘They're looking for the perfect union between business and art.’
      • ‘For him, Asia and Europe was his parents, and he sought a more perfect union.’
      unity, accord, unison, unanimity, harmony, concord, agreement, concurrence, undividedness
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    3. 1.3count noun A marriage.
      ‘their union had not been blessed with children’
      • ‘This reception also symbolizes and makes real our union with the whole Church.’
      • ‘We need to demand the same respect under the law for our unions that heterosexual marriage provides.’
      • ‘Should the Church bless same-sex unions and ordain gay and lesbian people in same-sex partnership?’
      • ‘Gay and lesbian Vermonters do not have the right to call their unions marriage.’
      • ‘It is as though all traces of eroticism have been whitewashed out of the movie's principal heterosexual union.’
      • ‘The study found that 22 percent of married or domestic partner couples report they are involved in a religiously diverse union.’
      • ‘A marriage is considered a union of two families as well as two individuals.’
      • ‘In 1985, at least 75 percent of all new unions between women and men were established without the payment of bride wealth.’
      • ‘But she said that while both parties consented to arranged marriages, forced unions were made under duress.’
      • ‘Same-sex marriage advocates are urging MPs to defeat an anticipated motion from the Canadian Alliance defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.’
      • ‘Although my parents emulate everything I would hope to find in a union, my interests have focussed on many not able to offer such a thing.’
      • ‘The proclamation went on to define marriage as ‘a union between a man and a woman.’’
      • ‘The bride and groom take a drink to symbolize their union.’
      • ‘In other words, no state will be required to grant marriage benefits to unions other than marriage; those incidents are left up to the voters to decide.’
      • ‘Gratian ascribed to the concubinage relationship the quality of marital affection which the Roman jurists had reserved for marriage unions.’
      • ‘Marriage is considered a union of two families, not the choice of two individuals.’
      • ‘Marriage is a union of souls, not just bodies and hearts.’
      • ‘This strange partnership was rightly described as more of an ‘arranged marriage than a romantic union.’’
      • ‘So when Henry met nursing student Joy Martin three years ago and the two fell in love, they decided they wanted a holy union in a Catholic church.’
      • ‘In contrast, older people living in stable marriages are prevented from taking communion simply because their union has not been blessed in church.’
      marriage, wedding, partnership, pairing, alliance, match, compact, affiliation, civil partnership
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  • 2A society or association formed by people with a common interest or purpose.

    in names ‘the Mothers' Union’
    • ‘Honestly, the activities of our student union are too ephemeral: often changing and always short-lived.’
    • ‘The society serves as a union of personalities lobbying for the success of the institution similar to the Philadelphia Orchestra.’
    • ‘These groups include clubs, teams, societies, unions, and centres on campus (to name but a few).’
    • ‘I don't think there's a Turk union or association or club chapter.’
    association, trade union, alliance, league, guild
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    1. 2.1 A trade union.
      in names ‘the National Farmers' Union’
      • ‘Back in the mid-1990s, the union leaders got the idea to unionize my then small business with its six production employees.’
      • ‘At the end of the book, he declares that labour historians must pay attention to those wage earners who rejected class struggle and who were more loyal to their churches than to their unions.’
      • ‘If the union leaders refuse to fight then New Labour will get a breathing space on some fronts.’
      • ‘The union estimated that between 80 and 90 per cent of its members walked out of job centres and benefit offices on Monday.’
      • ‘The union wants a four percent pay increase and a trust fund to protect workers' entitlements.’
      • ‘They have spoken to Unison branches and met trade unionists from other unions.’
      • ‘The union leaders were forced to call for a general strike and the cabinet rushed to end the dispute.’
      • ‘The number of national unions varied during the times, mainly because of frequent mergers.’
      • ‘Members of the tugboat and barge operators union will now have to vote on the proposed deal - a process that could take up to six weeks.’
      • ‘This is bound up both with the bipartisan support for these attacks on city employees, and with the role of the city unions and the entire trade union bureaucracy.’
      • ‘We are 100 per cent behind our union, as every firefighter knows our fight for better pay is a just one.’
      • ‘I would have preferred the plumbers union myself.’
      • ‘The union constantly assists trade unions in poor countries to organise and campaign for human rights and acceptable labour standards.’
      • ‘It was signed with teaching unions - except the National Union of Teachers - in January.’
      • ‘The union is calling on trade unionists to bombard the council with messages of protest.’
      • ‘Because of the anti trade union laws the union reps couldn't call one officially.’
      • ‘The national teachers' unions like to present themselves as the underdog in the fight over school reform.’
      • ‘It would be replaced by a system in which the faculty would be represented by a few union leaders.’
      • ‘The unions gained one percent but went three weeks with no pay.’
      • ‘Each of the unions are now seeking national executive endorsement for industrial action.’
  • 3British historical A number of parishes consolidated for the purposes of administering the Poor Laws.

    • ‘In addition, the new Act created a commission to supervise the establishment of unions of parishes in England and Wales.’
    • ‘Homfray was instituted as incumbent of the Bunclody union of parishes by Bishop Peter Barrett in St Mary's Church of Ireland on February 18.’
    1. 3.1 An association of independent Churches, especially Congregational or Baptist, for purposes of cooperation.
      • ‘Certain tensions created by different theological understandings now were forced to exist side by side in a new union of churches.’
      • ‘Churches Together in South West York, a union of nine churches in the area, are all circulating the petition along with businesses in Micklegate.’
      • ‘Marking the 40th anniversary of the existence of the union of seven churches has been a culmination of a multitude of ups and downs for the UCZ.’
      • ‘In 1972 the Presbyterian church of England merged with most of the congregational unions to create the United Reform Church, but the decline in membership was not arrested.’
      • ‘The governing idea was that the agency for distributing the money should ordinarily be the Baptist unions or conventions in the recipient countries.’
  • 4the UnionA political unit consisting of a number of states or provinces with the same central government.

    1. 4.1 The United States, especially from its founding by the original thirteen states in 1787–90 to the secession of the Confederate states in 1860–1.
      ‘California is the fastest growing state in the Union when it comes to urban encroachment’
    2. 4.2 The northern states of the United States which opposed the seceding Confederate states in the American Civil War.
    3. 4.3 South Africa, especially before it became a republic in 1961.
  • 5Mathematics
    The set that comprises all the elements (and no others) contained in any of two or more given sets.

    • ‘Consider a graph G which is formed by taking the union of k cycles.’
    • ‘In what follows, we will apply results about centroids of domains to unions of curves or line segments.’
    • ‘Venn extended Boole's mathematical logic and is best known to mathematicians and logicians for his diagrammatic way of representing sets, and their unions and intersections.’
    • ‘The locus of their centers is the union of two angle bisectors - two one line sets forming an angle of / 2.’
    1. 5.1mass noun The operation of forming a union.
      • ‘It followed that number-theoretic operations could be explained in terms of set-theoretic operations such as intersection, union, and the like.’
      • ‘This assembly uses simple programming and mathematical principles: Boolean, union and intersection.’
      • ‘For Blake, the fact that two sets were being operated together brought to mind another set operation, union.’
      • ‘Venn diagrams deal with sets, their union and intersection.’
  • 6A joint or coupling for pipes.

    • ‘Planting the union below soil level helps protect from the cold and planting the union above soil level makes it easier to detect and remove suckers.’
    • ‘Split hoses can be repaired with a proper union joint or re-attach the hose to the machine.’
    • ‘The vertical gas line comes to a T joint below the union toward the bottom side of the water heater and is connected to the top vertical opening of the T joint.’
    join, joint, intersection, link, bond, weld, seam, coupling, connection, juncture
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  • 7(in South Asia) a local administrative unit comprising several rural villages.

    • ‘Ukhia thana had 5 unions; a union is a rural administrative subdivision of the thana comprising several villages.’
  • 8A part of a flag with an emblem symbolizing national union, typically occupying the upper corner next to the staff.

  • 9mass noun A fabric made of two or more different yarns, typically cotton and linen or silk.


Late Middle English: from Old French, or from ecclesiastical Latin unio(n-) ‘unity’, from Latin unus ‘one’.