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), miss out [British], 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

But, again, there aren’t any details about what that would entail. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Netflix is reportedly considering a cheaper price tier in some markets," 12 Nov. 2018 Facing the highest incarceration rates in the world, and the costs that locking up so many people entail (from financial to social), America has tried to reel back policies that perpetuated mass incarceration and the war on drugs. German Lopez, Vox, "How 2018 voters could change America’s criminal justice system," 6 Nov. 2018 Test flying, which takes place typically in the year running up to the first delivery, entails taking the plane to extreme temperature zones, both hot and cold, like northern Canada during the depths of the winter. Barbara Peterson, Condé Nast Traveler, "How Often Do New Airplanes Have Problems?," 2 Nov. 2018 But public understanding of what that would entail is not. The Economist, "How to impeach a president," 10 May 2018 Too bad the president doesn’t seem to know what that would entail. Bloomberg.com, "Ramesh Ponnuru on Why Trump Is No Dealmaker on Immigration," 12 Jan. 2018 All these ceremonies and parties have prepared her for whatever the dress code may entail. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "What Dress Will Kate Middleton Wear to Princess Eugenie's Wedding?," 8 Oct. 2018 Furthermore, Andrew Weissmann, an attorney on Mueller’s team, attended Patten’s hearing Friday — suggesting Patten’s cooperation agreement may entail providing information to the special counsel. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "A Paul Manafort and Cambridge Analytica associate just struck a plea deal," 31 Aug. 2018 Actress Chrissy Metz recently hinted at what those stressful situations might entail—and all signs point to the couple's struggles with having a baby. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "Everything We Know About 'This Is Us' Season 3," 26 July 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

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Statistics for entail

Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for entail

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

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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

History and Etymology for entail

Transitive verb

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on entail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with entail

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for entail

Spanish Central: Translation of entail

Nglish: Translation of entail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of entail for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about entail

Comments on entail

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


a nest or breeding place

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