/kon'sti tooh"sheuhn, -tyooh"-/, n.1. the way in which a thing is composed or made up; makeup; composition: the chemical constitution of the cleanser.2. the physical character of the body as to strength, health, etc.: He has a strong constitution.3. Med., Psychol. the aggregate of a person's physical and psychological characteristics.4. the act or process of constituting; establishment.5. the state of being constituted; formation.6. any established arrangement or custom.8. the system of fundamental principles according to which a nation, state, corporation, or the like, is governed.9. the document embodying these principles.10. Archaic. character or condition of mind; disposition; temperament.[1350-1400; ME constitucion edict, ordinance < AF < L constitution- (s. of constitutio). See CONSTITUTE, -ION]
* * *ISet of doctrines and practices that form the fundamental organizing principle of a political state.It may be written (e.g., the Constitution of the United States) or partly written and uncodified (e.g., Britain's constitution). Its provisions usually specify how the government is to be organized, what rights it shall have, and what rights shall be retained by the people. Modern constitutional ideas developed during the Enlightenment, when philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and John Locke proposed that constitutional governments should be stable, adaptable, accountable, and open, should represent the governed, and should divide power according to its purpose. The oldest constitution still in force is that of the state of Massachusetts (1780). See also social contract.II(as used in expressions)Atlanta Journal ConstitutionConstitution ActConstitution USSConstitution of 1795Clarendon Constitutions ofMelfi Constitutions of
* * *▪ shipwarship renowned in American history. One of the first frigates built for the U.S. Navy (United States Navy, The), it was launched in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 21, 1797; it is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat. (The Victory is older  but is preserved in a drydock at Portsmouth, England.)The Constitution's overall length is 204 feet (62 metres), its displacement is 2,200 tons, and its gun range is 1,200 yards (1,100 metres). The bolts fastening its timbers and copper sheathing on the bottom were made by the silversmith and patriot Paul Revere (Revere, Paul). Rated as a 44-gun frigate, it ordinarily carried more than 50 guns and a crew of some 450. Original cost of the vessel exceeded $300,000, including guns and equipment.In the successful war against the Tripoli (Tripolitan War) pirates (1801–05), the Constitution was Commodore Edward Preble (Preble, Edward)'s flagship, and the treaty of peace was signed aboard it. During the War of 1812 it achieved an enduring place in American naval tradition. On August 19, 1812, commanded by Captain Isaac Hull (Hull, Isaac), it won a brilliant victory over the British frigate Guerrière. Tradition has it that during this encounter the American sailors, on seeing British shot failing to penetrate the oak sides of their ship, dubbed it “Old Ironsides.” Several other victories added to its fame.When in 1830 the ship was condemned as unseaworthy and recommended for breaking up, public sentiment was aroused by Oliver Wendell Holmes (Holmes, Oliver Wendell)'s poem “ Old Ironsides.”The ship was preserved, its rebuilding was provided for in 1833, and in 1844 it began a circumnavigation of the globe. The Constitution was removed from active service in 1882, and in 1905 it was opened to the public in Boston Harbor. After a restoration (1927–31) the ship was recommissioned; although it did not sail under its own power, it called at 90 American ports on both coasts and was visited by more than 4.5 million people. Since 1934 it has been based at the Charlestown Navy Yard (now part of the Boston National Historic Park). In celebration of its bicentennial, the newly renovated Constitution sailed again in July 1997.
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