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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Victims of the storm included businesses old and new, run-down and upscale, name brands and mom-and-pop – all part of the growing East Nashville enclave. Yihyun Jeong, USA TODAY, "Minute by minute: How a deadly tornado cut a devastating path across Tennessee," 5 Mar. 2020 The Ransom family lived in a house at 828 N. California St., part of an enclave of affluent African-American residents more or less bordered on the north by Crispus Attucks High School and bordered on the south by the Walker Theatre building. David Lindquist, Indianapolis Star, "Madam CJ Walker and 3 more Indianapolis residents you'll meet in upcoming Netflix series," 23 Feb. 2020 In a party-line vote, Democrats approved the Washington D.C. Admission Act, which would create a state out of the 10-mile enclave made up of the district’s eight wards. Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner, "Democrats advance DC statehood in House," 11 Feb. 2020 But the rebel narrative had far more influence in the West, and that is how the myth of a virtuous rebel enclave became so powerful. Robert F. Worth, The New York Review of Books, "And the Oscar Goes to… A Simplified Story of Syria’s Civil War," 6 Feb. 2020 My plan was to spend the next five days hopping from one beach enclave to the next along the Costa Chica, which stretches from the neighboring state of Guerrero to roughly the middle of the Oaxacan coastline. Freda Moon, New York Times, "Mexico’s Last Countercultural Coast," 3 Feb. 2020 But residents complained that building on the site, down a steep hillside from the expensive Forest Hill enclave, could jeopardize the stability of the homes perched above. J.k. Dineen, SFChronicle.com, "SF hopes to build 250 affordable housing units for seniors near Laguna Honda," 6 Jan. 2020 No Palestinian groups claimed responsibility for the rocket fire, but Israel blames Gaza's Hamas rulers for any fire from the enclave. Fox News, "Israel house damaged by rocket barrage from Gaza," 2 Nov. 2019 In the fog of war, at least one thing is becoming all too clear: The half-decade-old experiment of an autonomous Syrian Kurdish enclave — backed by American arms and air power — has come to a shuddering halt. Ishaan Tharoor, The Denver Post, "Tharoor: Trump’s lose-lose game in Syria," 15 Oct. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about enclave

Time Traveler for enclave

Time Traveler

The first known use of enclave was in 1868

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about enclave

Statistics for enclave

Last Updated

27 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Enclave.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enclave. Accessed 30 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for enclave


How to pronounce enclave (audio) How to pronounce enclave (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on enclave

What made you want to look up enclave? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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