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

The pals didn’t spill the beans on what Jordyn Woods for Kylie Cosmetics will entail. Meagan Fredette, refinery29.com, "Kylie Jenner Revealed Her Dogs Are Protective Of Baby Stormi," 7 July 2018 Perdue didn't provide any details on what such a strategy might entail. William L. Spence, idahostatesman, "U.S. trading partners are raising tariffs. That won't hurt Idaho farmers, Perdue vows," 4 July 2018 The time when the ball is actually in play is vanishingly small—yet not quite brief enough to reduce the four or five hour investment that watching a baseball game now entails. WSJ, "American Sports Can Be Sleepier Than Soccer," 11 July 2018 The culture becomes the calamity; but to abandon the culture entails another kind of loss. The Economist, "Tommy Orange’s debut novel is a work of defiance and recovery," 5 July 2018 But Macron isn’t the only leader who has faced the uncertainty a handshake from Trump entails. Abby Vesoulis, Time, "How President Trump Turned Handshakes Into a High-Stakes Showdown," 2 July 2018 With a small piece of the Orlando City franchise selling at a price that values the whole at $490 million, future MLS expansion figures to entail a sobering dose of sticker shock. Timothy Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "James O'Connor's move from LouCity wasn't ideal, but likely inevitable," 1 July 2018 Board member Matthew McManus said after the meeting that sponsorship entailed a donation to the group’s scholarship fund. Staff Report, chicagotribune.com, "River Grove Library Board looks to add Jesse White Tumblers to River Front Fest lineup," 15 June 2018 What’s not clear is the method that Microsoft’s new system entails. David Meyer, Fortune, "The Checkout-Less Store War Is On: Microsoft Is Reportedly Working on an Amazon Go Rival," 14 June 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

22 Oct 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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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).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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