: a group of words containing a subject and predicate and functioning as a member of a complex (see complex entry 2 sense 1b(2)) or compound (see compound entry 3 sense 3b) sentence
The sentence "When it rained they went inside" consists of two clauses: "when it rained" and "they went inside."
: a separate section of a discourse (see discourse entry 1 sense 2) or writing
specifically : a distinct article in a formal document
a clause in a contract

Examples of clause in a Sentence

The sentence “When it rained they went inside” consists of two clauses: “when it rained” and “they went inside.” a clause in a will
Recent Examples on the Web The option, which dates back to the fund’s initial public offering in July 2018, stipulates that the entity that Blackstone owns could match any take-over offer for the fund’s assets, a clause intended to give artists confidence their song rights and royalties would not frequently change hands. Elizabeth Dilts Marshall, Billboard, 9 May 2024 Experts have interpreted that last clause to include things like indiscriminate bombing or disproportionate civilian casualties. Michael Crowley, New York Times, 7 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for clause 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'clause.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin clausa close of a rhetorical period, from Latin, feminine of clausus, past participle of claudere to close — more at close entry 1

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of clause was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near clause

Cite this Entry

“Clause.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a separate distinct part of an article or document
a clause in a will
: a group of words having its own subject and predicate but forming only part of a compound or complex sentence (as "when it rained" or "they went inside" in the sentence "when it rained, they went inside")

Legal Definition


: a distinct section of a writing
specifically : a distinct article, stipulation, or proviso in a formal document
a no-strike clause in the collective bargaining agreement
clausal adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on clause

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