force majeure

force ma·​jeure | \ ˌfȯrs-mä-ˈzhər How to pronounce force majeure (audio) , -mə- \

Definition of force majeure

1 : superior or irresistible force
2 : an event or effect that cannot be reasonably anticipated or controlled — compare act of god

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

Force majeure translates literally from French as superior force. In English, the term is often used in line with its literal French meaning, but it has other uses as well, including one that has roots in a principle of French law. In business circles, "force majeure" describes those uncontrollable events (such as war, labor stoppages, or extreme weather) that are not the fault of any party and that make it difficult or impossible to carry out normal business. A company may insert a force majeure clause into a contract to absolve itself from liability in the event it cannot fulfill the terms of a contract (or if attempting to do so will result in loss or damage of goods) for reasons beyond its control.

Examples of force majeure in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Aramco could consider declaring itself unable to fulfill contracts on some international shipments — known as force majeure — if the resumption of full capacity at Abqaiq takes weeks. Los Angeles Times, "Oil jumps the most ever after attack cuts Saudi Arabian supplies," 15 Sep. 2019 Certainly, Judge Castro’s interpretation of the force majeure clause and the looming referendum provide the city with leverage points to renegotiate the contract and address citizen concerns. John Mannillo And Andy Rorvig |, Twin Cities, "Mannillo, Rorvig: Trash, fees, franchises … St. Paul keeps making costly legal mistakes. Why?," 23 June 2019 The country’s national oil company has declared force majeure on exports from the El Sharara oil field following an attack by a militia group over the weekend. Stephanie Yang, WSJ, "Oil Falls as OPEC Doubts Rise," 12 Dec. 2018 But the payments are part of force majeure provisions included in the pipeline contracts, not fines or subsidies, TransCanada said. Anthony Harrup, WSJ, "Mexico Seeks to Revise Private Pipeline Contracts," 12 Feb. 2019 This is called force majeure, and means the movie is unsalvageable. Eleanor Hildebrandt, Popular Mechanics, "The True Story of the Lost Sci-Fi Movie "Brainstorm," Natalie Wood’s Last Film," 21 Dec. 2018 The move, which is set to take effect in January, bolstered prices by as much as 5% Friday, but both benchmarks closed down roughly 3% Monday. Libya’s national oil company has declared force majeure on exports from El Sharara, pictured in 2014. Amrith Ramkumar, WSJ, "Oil Rebounds on Libyan Supply Outage," 11 Dec. 2018 Shell declared force majeure on Bonny Light crude shipments last month following pipeline leaks, while loadings of Forcados exports were also delayed. Elisha Bala-gbogbo,, "Shell Says Nigeria Attacks Recur Even as Oil Output Recovers," 5 June 2018 Evacuation insurance in case of injury or force majeure is a smart precaution. Adam Popescu,, "What to Know Before You Go Tracking Snow Leopards at 13,000 Feet," 1 May 2018

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

1883, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for force majeure

French, superior force

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about force majeure

Time Traveler for force majeure

Time Traveler

The first known use of force majeure was in 1883

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about force majeure

Statistics for force majeure

Cite this Entry

“Force majeure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for force majeure

force majeure

force ma·​jeure | \ ˈfȯrs-ma-ˈzhər, -mȧ-ˈzhœ̅r How to pronounce force majeure (audio) \

Legal Definition of force majeure

1 : superior or insuperable force
2 : an event (as war, labor strike, or extreme weather) or effect that cannot be reasonably anticipated or controlled : fortuitous event — compare act of god, inevitable accident

History and Etymology for force majeure

French, superior force

More from Merriam-Webster on force majeure

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with force majeure

Comments on force majeure

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!