en·tail | \ in-ˈtāl , en- \
entailed; entailing; entails

Definition of entail 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to impose, involve, or imply as a necessary accompaniment or result the project will entail considerable expense

2 : to restrict (property) by limiting the inheritance to the owner's lineal descendants or to a particular class thereof

3a : to confer, assign, or transmit (something) for an indefinitely long time : to confer, assign, or transmit as if by entail entailed on them indelible disgrace —Robert Browning

b : to fix (a person) permanently in some condition or status entail him and his heirs unto the crown —William Shakespeare


en·tail | \ ˈen-ˌtāl , in-ˈtāl \

Definition of entail (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a restriction especially of lands by limiting the inheritance to the owner's lineal descendants or to a particular class thereof

b : an entailed (see entail entry 1 sense 2) estate

2 : something transmitted as if by entail

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Other words from entail


entailer \in-ˈtā-lər, en- \ noun
entailment \in-ˈtāl-mənt, en- \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for entail

Synonyms: Verb

carry, comprehend, contain, embrace, encompass, include, involve, number, subsume, take in

Antonyms: Verb

exclude, leave (out), omit

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Examples of entail in a Sentence


Pregnancy involves the bodily dependence of the unborn child on its mother; in many cases, it entails a significant physical burden. —Cathleen Kaveny, Commonweal, 4 May 2007 … it was a Master Highlighter Event, a two-day guest appearance by one of Kinkade's specially trained assistants, who would highlight any picture bought during the event for free. Highlighting a picture is not that different from highlighting your hair: it entails stippling tiny bright dots of paint on the picture to give it more texture and luminescence. —Susan Orlean, New Yorker, 15 Oct. 2001 Life is a difficult and complicated enterprise. It entails joy but also suffering, gain but also loss, hope but also despair. —Neal Gabler, Life: The Movie, 1998 Discourse is a social as well as an intellectual activity; it entails interaction between minds, and it revolves around something possessed in common. —David A. Hollinger, In the American Province, (1985) 1992 He accepted the responsibility, with all that it entails. a lavish wedding entails extensive planning and often staggering expense
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Another approach entails a bargain sale, in which the donor sells his or her home to the foundation at a reduced cost. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "These donors love their alma maters so much they gave them the roofs over their heads," 13 July 2018 The next step entails the county working with each of Cobb’s six cities and local board of elections to get the referendum on the ballot, according to county spokesman Ross Cavitt. Meris Lutz, ajc, "Cobb moves on ‘Brunch Bill’ expanding Sunday alcohol sales," 12 July 2018 Any welfare reform entails trade-offs between the cost of a scheme and its effects on poverty and incentives to work. The Economist, "Capitalism needs a welfare state to survive," 12 July 2018 That could entail those without an MBA, less experienced candidates more generally, or else candidates with specialized or industry skills and off-campus experience. Natasha Bach, Fortune, "That MBA Doesn't Guarantee You a Dream Job Like It Used To," 26 June 2018 That will entail digging deep into their own pockets to pay for advertising. Joshua Green, Bloomberg.com, "The Dems Take Obamacare on the Road," 25 June 2018 Agricultural sales entails selling equipment used on farms and ranches for raising animals and growing food. Valerie Sweeten, Houston Chronicle, "Equipment sales can bring top salaries," 17 June 2018 This entails becoming aware of and then altering responses informed by stereotypes. Judith Graham, courant.com, "Believing Stereotypes About Aging Creates Self-Fulfilling Prophecy," 30 May 2018 One of her bizarre tangents entails a brief phone conversation with the notorious terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, aka Carlos the Jackal, from his prison cell in France. Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Chris the Swiss': Film Review | Cannes 2018," 22 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'entail.' 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 entail


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for entail


Middle English entailen, entaillen, from en- entry 1 + taile, taille limitation — more at tail entry 4


see entail entry 1

Transitive verb

Middle English entaillen, from en-, causative prefix + taille restriction on inheritance — see tail

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Statistics for entail

Last Updated

24 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for entail

The first known use of entail was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for entail



English Language Learners Definition of entail

: to have (something) as a part, step, or result

en·tail | \ in-ˈtāl \

Legal Definition of entail 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: to make (an estate in real property) a fee tail : limit the descent of (real property) by restricting inheritance to specific descendants who cannot convey or transfer the property estates are entailed entire on the eldest male heir —Benjamin Franklin

Other words from entail

entailment noun



Legal Definition of entail (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of entailing real property also : the practice of entailing property the repeal of the laws of entail would prevent the accumulation and perpetuation of wealth in select families —Thomas Jefferson — see also De Donis Conditionalibus

2 : an entailed estate in real property if entails had not become barrable —Eileen Spring

3 : the fixed line of descent of an entailed estate

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Comments on entail

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an open space surrounded by woods

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