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

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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 State firms declared force majeure on some purchases from February as coronavirus lockdowns smothered demand., "China Seen Skipping Winter LNG Feast With Storage Brimming," 27 Aug. 2020 All three contracts contain force majeure language allowing for cancellation in the event of unforeseen catastrophe. Zach Osterman, The Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Big Ten's fall sports decision painful — and probably our only chance," 9 July 2020 The show was canceled under the force majeure clause of the Nov. 6, 2019 contract, which was signed by Executive Director Cynthia Rider and General Manager Nathan Gehan. Susan Dunne,, "Hartford Stage suing ‘King’s Speech’ production company for not refunding $145,000," 6 Aug. 2020 Concert promoters took advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to clear their books of weak shows and invoke force majeure language to cancel tours without penalty (but still face billions in losses this year from the pandemic). Dave Brooks, Billboard, "Live Nation Says 86% of Fans Declined a Refund. Here's What That Number Really Tells Us," 6 Aug. 2020 But maybe not, if a court were to decide the force majeure clause sufficiently covers IU in the event of a pandemic. Jon Blau, The Indianapolis Star, "IU football: Resolution of canceled games could become murky," 12 July 2020 Tech might be freed from the obligation to pay Arizona a $400,000 game guarantee, though the force majeure clause in the game contract does not specify a pandemic as a reason for waiving the obligation. From Staff And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Pac-12 decision eliminates Tech-Arizona game," 11 July 2020 Now, like a lot of other small-conference administrators she’ll be lawyered up, closely studying force majeure case law. John Canzano, oregonlive, "Canzano: A doozy of dizzy developments for the Pac-12 Conference," 11 July 2020 The Hawaii contracts allows either party to cancel for force majeure. Jeff Metcalfe, The Arizona Republic, "Pac-12 switches to conference play only for fall sports, joining Big Ten," 10 July 2020

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.

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First Known Use of force majeure

1883, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for force majeure

French, superior force

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The first known use of force majeure was in 1883

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Last Updated

1 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Force majeure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2020.

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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

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