eminent domain


: a right of a government to take private property for public use by virtue of the superior dominion of the sovereign power over all lands within its jurisdiction

Examples of eminent domain in a Sentence

The state took the homes by eminent domain to build the new road.
Recent Examples on the Web Since before World War II, the city of Houston had used eminent domain to capture land, making way for whites-only housing and later I-45. Dara T. Mathis, The Atlantic, 13 Nov. 2023 The university used eminent domain as leverage to force at least one homeowner to sell in 2005. Brandi Kellam, ProPublica, 10 Nov. 2023 Affordable housing: In the Oct. 5 California section, a column about using eminent domain to create affordable housing mistakenly identified Glenn Wasserman as a former chief executive of the Los Angeles redevelopment agency. Los Angeles Times, 12 Oct. 2023 Under state law, Maryland governments must regularly review deals involving eminent domain, and in 2018, the City Council considered a bill to review the deal with La Cité. Giacomo Bologna, Baltimore Sun, 20 Sep. 2023 The city invoked eminent domain to acquire 18 properties. Brandi Kellam, ProPublica, 5 Sep. 2023 The private company, based in Houston, had a longstanding dispute with Texans Against High-Speed Rail, a group concerned with Texas Central’s possible use of eminent domain. Zaeem Shaikh, Dallas News, 9 Aug. 2023 But as Alameda County grew, the community became the target of eminent domain, a practice that allows the government to acquire private property for public use or economic development. Elizabeth Both, NBC News, 19 June 2023 This case is part of a burgeoning trend of private landowners challenging pipeline companies on the unlawful use of eminent domain, or the ability of the government to claim land for public use. Eve Andrews, The New Republic, 10 Oct. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1783, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of eminent domain was in 1783

Dictionary Entries Near eminent domain

Cite this Entry

“Eminent domain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eminent%20domain. Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition

eminent domain

: a right of a government to take private property for public use

Legal Definition

eminent domain

em·​i·​nent do·​main
: the right of the government to take property from a private owner for public use by virtue of the superior dominion of its sovereignty over all lands within its jurisdiction see also condemn, expropriate, take sense 1b

Note: The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires the government to compensate the owner of property taken by eminent domain, stating “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” State constitutions contain similar provisions requiring that the property owner receive just compensation for the property taken.

More from Merriam-Webster on eminent domain

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!