en·​clave | \ ˈen-ˌklāv How to pronounce enclave (audio) , ˈän-ˌklāv How to pronounce enclave (audio) \

Definition of enclave

: a distinct territorial, cultural, or social unit enclosed within or as if within foreign territory ethnic enclaves

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Looking for the keys to the etymology of enclave? You'll find them in French and Latin. English speakers borrowed "enclave" from French in the 19th century. The French noun derives in turn from the Middle French verb enclaver, meaning to "enclose." "Enclaver" itself can be traced to the Latin prefix in- and the Latin noun clavis, meaning "key." "Clavis" opened the door to a few other English words, some of which might seem unlikely relatives of "enclave." "Clavicle," the word for the bone that joins the breastbone and the shoulder blade, comes from "clavis," as does the musical sign "clef."

Examples of enclave in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Military officials said more than 300 rockets had been launched from Gaza by Tuesday morning, although more than a third of them failed to cross into Israel and exploded landing inside the enclave itself. Washington Post, "After Jerusalem erupts, deadly strikes and clashes spread across Israel and the Palestinian territories," 11 May 2021 The exclusive enclave sits at the highest point on Hong Kong Island. Jack Guy, CNN, "90-year-old Hong Kong woman loses $32 million in phone scam," 21 Apr. 2021 Supporters of Japantown along 100 South fear the project could overwhelm the historic cultural enclave. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Designs for a revitalized Japantown in Salt Lake City stir the souls of Asian community," 19 Apr. 2021 The enclave remains a one-party state dominated by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a group close to the PKK. The Economist, "The Kurdish spring did not happen," 10 Apr. 2021 Palm Beach County has been a go-to destination this season for many people seeking better weather and fewer restrictions, and April is one of the most beautiful months to visit the enclave. Beth Landman, Forbes, "Insider Tips For A Palm Beach Visit," 7 Apr. 2021 The unemployment rate in Gaza hovers around 50%, largely because of the blockade that Israel has placed on the enclave in order to undermine Hamas’ military activity and rocket production. BostonGlobe.com, "Palestinians and Israelis both vote soon. The differences are stark," 21 Mar. 2021 The unemployment rate in Gaza hovers around 50 percent, largely because of the blockade that Israel has placed on the enclave in order to undermine Hamas’s military activity and rocket production. New York Times, "Palestinians and Israelis Both Vote Soon. The Differences Are Stark.," 21 Mar. 2021 Armenia suffered a stinging defeat last fall after losing swaths of territory in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in a brief war with Azerbaijan, which was backed by Turkey. WSJ, "Biden’s Recognition of Armenian Genocide Helps Healing of a Deep Wound," 26 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'enclave.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of enclave

1868, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for enclave

French, from Middle French, from enclaver to enclose, from Vulgar Latin *inclavare to lock up, from Latin in- + clavis key — more at clavicle

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Time Traveler for enclave

Time Traveler

The first known use of enclave was in 1868

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Last Updated

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Enclave.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enclave. Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for enclave



English Language Learners Definition of enclave

: an area with people who are different in some way from the people in the areas around it


en·​clave | \ ˈen-ˌklāv; ˈän-ˌklāv How to pronounce enclave (audio) , ˈäŋ- How to pronounce enclave (audio) , -ˌkläv \

Medical Definition of enclave

: something enclosed in an organ or tissue but not a continuous part of it

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