Definition of enclave
: a distinct territorial, cultural, or social unit enclosed within or as if within foreign territory ethnic enclaves
enclave was our Word of the Day on 03/19/2009. Hear the podcast!
Did You Know?
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."
Origin and Etymology of enclave
French, from Middle French, from enclaver to enclose, from Vulgar Latin *inclavare to lock up, from Latin in- + clavis key — more at clavicle
First Known Use: 1868
ENCLAVE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of enclave for English Language Learners
: an area with people who are different in some way from the people in the areas around it
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up enclave? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).