en·​clave | \ˈen-ˌklāv, ˈän-ˌklāv \

Definition of enclave 

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

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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."

Examples of enclave in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

In this enclave in Southwest Florida, the lush, pruned golf course and ritzy subdivisions are eclipsed only by the magnificent church that marks the town’s distinctive Catholic character. Adam Harris, The Atlantic, "When Betsy DeVos Comes to a Catholic Campus," 8 May 2018 Specifically refusing to direct drivers through wealthy enclaves smacks of inequality. Neal Broverman, Los Angeles Magazine, "In War Over Waze, Will Rich Angelenos Demand Private Streets?," 27 Apr. 2018 Lately that seems especially true of the pint-size town of Bay Harbor Islands, a once-peaceful enclave in Biscayne Bay that has been roiled by the fallout from a big luxury-condo boom. Andres Viglucci, miamiherald, "He fought Town Hall, challenged the mayor and lost. Then his home got cited. Twice. | Miami Herald," 19 Apr. 2018 To understand Blankenship’s appeal is to understand the current conservative movement in rural America, and how, in the span of several years, West Virginia became one of the reddest states in the country after decades as a Democratic enclave. Tim Loh, Bloomberg.com, "The Ex-Con Coal Baron Running for Senate in West Virginia," 19 Mar. 2018 The five-time Pro Bowl player built the 12,500-square-foot stone estate in DC Ranch's posh Silverleaf enclave in 2013. Catherine Reagor, azcentral, "NFL star Jared Allen sells Scottsdale mansion to KB Home CEO for $10.3M," 25 May 2018 Tourism took over shortly after Penedo began to fall apart, and now the area is known as a Finnish enclave in Brazil. Jennifer Billock, Smithsonian, "Seven Planned Utopian Towns That You Can Visit Today," 23 May 2018 Over 2,700 more migrants crossed into Spain by land in its North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Washington Post, "AP PHOTOS: Cellphones, teenagers on migrant route to Europe," 2 July 2018 Albany Park, for example, and its neighboring north-side enclaves remain (for now) a safe place where the professional taquero can thrive in America. Mike Sula, Chicago Reader, "Chicago's taco game is strong: these 3 spots prove the taqueria, if nothing else, abides," 27 June 2018

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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en clair






Statistics for enclave

Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for enclave

The first known use of enclave was in 1868

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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, ˈäŋ-, -ˌkläv\

Medical Definition of enclave 

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

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by force of circumstances

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