en·​tail | \ in-ˈtāl How to pronounce entail (audio) , 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 How to pronounce entail (audio) , in-ˈtāl How to pronounce entail (audio) \

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 How to pronounce entailer (audio) , en-​ \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for entail

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of entail in a Sentence

Verb 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 In this moment, real leadership would entail de-escalation ... Dominick Mastrangelo, Washington Examiner, "'Throw these bums out': Mark Levin says Barr hearing proves Democrats 'support the violent rioters'," 29 July 2020 That will entail root-and-branch campaign finance reform, an end to voter suppression, new defenses against foreign interference in elections, and reining in the digital disinformation engines. David Rothkopf, The New York Review of Books, "‘The Most Ignorant and Unfit’: What Made America’s Worst Ever Leader?," 3 July 2020 According to pro-Brexit analysts recently cited by The New York Times, the government could bury the shock of Brexit, which may entail a no-deal default to WTO terms, in the generalized pain of the pandemic. Rachel Shabi, The New York Review of Books, "The Pro-Privatization Shock Therapy of the UK’s Covid Response," 8 July 2020 The Ivy League is planning to make an announcement Wednesday regarding its plan for fall sports, which could entail postponing football until the spring. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football's Jim Harbaugh says let's play ball: 'COVID is part of our society'," 8 July 2020 So figure out a way to measure time spent on individual tasks, number of engagements on social media posts, hits on blogs, increases in sales, or contacts with customers, whatever your position might entail. Kristine Gill, Fortune, "How to get promoted while working remotely," 26 June 2020 The bid, which would entail eliminating six units from the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, earned a sharp rebuke from County Sheriff Alex Villanueva over the weekend. Fox News, "Los Angeles proposes slashing law enforcement budget, including elimination of Special Victims Bureau," 29 June 2020 With that in mind, here is a look at what every weekend this fall could entail with a week-by-week schedule of the high school football season. Matt Goul, cleveland, "Week-by-week 2020 high school football schedule: What this season could look like," 29 June 2020 Such a move would entail selling shares at about 29 cents on the dollar. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "With money tight amid coronavirus pandemic, NBA may be more ready for moves," 26 June 2020

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

Verb and Noun

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

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Time Traveler for entail

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for entail

Last Updated

2 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Entail.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entail. Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for entail


How to pronounce entail (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of entail

: to have (something) as a part, step, or result
en·​tail | \ in-ˈtāl How to pronounce entail (audio) \

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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