ex·​emp·​tion | \ ig-ˈzem(p)-shən \

Definition of exemption

1 : the act of exempting or state of being exempt : immunity
2 : one that exempts or is exempted especially : a source or amount of income exempted from taxation

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for exemption


immunity, impunity

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of exemption in a Sentence

They were granted exemptions from military service. You can claim a tax exemption for each of your dependents.

Recent Examples on the Web

Under President Barack Obama, religious employers could already seek an exemption to the mandate. Anna North, Vox, "The Trump administration’s anti-birth control agenda, explained," 12 Nov. 2018 Apple, which received an exemption to the new tariffs on goods imported from China, gained 1.4 percent to $220.86. Alex Veiga, The Seattle Times, "US stocks rise as traders size up new US tariffs on China," 18 Sep. 2018 Bordia and Mitchell have spoken to lobbyists in Washington, D.C., about getting an exemption to the catfish import rule for the pez diablo. Tara Duggan, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Area men’s plan to market invasive fish from Mexico hits snag in U.S.," 2 July 2018 The Trump administration's filing asks for an emergency exemption to those requirements, which would allow immigration authorities to detain children who arrive in the U.S. with their parents for longer periods in family residential facilities. Daniella Silva /, NBC News, "Trump ended family separations, but he's still making life difficult for migrant children," 22 June 2018 San Antonio currently offers a $12,500 exemption to disabled property owners, regardless of veteran status. Josh Baugh, San Antonio Express-News, "Council sets policy direction for 2019 budget," 30 May 2018 But once the sanctions kicked in earlier this month, Washington granted about a million barrels a day worth of exemptions to Tehran’s oil buyers. Summer Said, WSJ, "Saudis Struggle to Share Pain of Pumping Less Oil," 30 Nov. 2018 Relatedly, the game industry has long argued for multiple exemptions to 2010's 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Activision ignores accessibility guidelines, skips Spyro subtitles," 19 Nov. 2018 Washington’s tests for overtime exemptions are similar to the federal tests. Benjamin Romano, The Seattle Times, "Washington considers raising 42-year-old standard on who gets overtime pay," 26 Oct. 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about exemption

Statistics for exemption

Last Updated

9 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for exemption

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for exemption



English Language Learners Definition of exemption

: freedom from being required to do something that others are required to do
: a source or amount of income that is not taxed


ex·​emp·​tion | \ ig-ˈzemp-shən \

Kids Definition of exemption

: freedom from having to do something that other people are required to do


ex·​emp·​tion | \ ig-ˈzemp-shən \

Legal Definition of exemption

1 : the act of exempting or state of being exempt
2 : one that exempts or is exempted: as
a : an amount of income exempted from taxation that may be deducted from adjusted gross income under the tax laws — see also Internal Revenue Code — compare deduction, exclusion, tax credit
dependency exemption \ də-​ˈpen-​dən-​sē-​ \
: an exemption that is allowed for each dependent who qualifies under the tax laws (as sections 151 and 152 of the Internal Revenue Code)

Note: Under the federal income tax laws, the dependency exemption is allowed for each dependent whose gross income is less than the exemption or who is a child of the taxpayer and is under 19 or a student under 24.

personal exemption
: an exemption that is allowed for the taxpayer or for the taxpayer and spouse if filing a joint return
b : the right created by federal and state laws to exempt specified types of property from a bankruptcy estate precludes the debtor from using the exemptions in the Bankruptcy Code also : a type of property that may be claimed as exempt — see also Bankruptcy Code

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on exemption

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


marked by fawning attentiveness

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!