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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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 Earlier this month, a unit of Exxon Mobil Corp. sued Macquarie Energy LLC after having a declaration of force majeure rejected by the energy trader. Bloomberg Wire, Dallas News, "‘Disaster should not be a jackpot,’ says San Antonio utility in lawsuit naming Energy Transfer, two others," 23 Mar. 2021 All business activities need a shift when that shift is required by global or local circumstances and changes in consumer behavior, especially when we're faced with a force majeure. Renata Milicevic, Forbes, "How To Adapt Your Marketing To The Current Times," 10 Mar. 2021 In support of their claims, the SL Green attorneys cited a rent dispute last year between a Manhattan landlord and Victoria’s Secret in which a judge sided with the landlord in a situation similarly lacking a force majeure clause. Debtwire, Forbes, "Alden Global Capital, Under Contract To Buy Tribune, Sued For Millions Over Unpaid Rent By Lipstick Building Landlord," 26 Feb. 2021 But in the long term, cash refunds should be mandatory in force majeure circumstances even when consumers cancel first. Ed Perkins,, "Ed Perkins on Travel: Handicapping Consumer Reports’ agenda for aviation consumer protection," 26 Feb. 2021 Claiming losses of almost $1 billion in 2020 and facing stiff headwinds again this year, MLS in December exercised the force majeure clause in the CBA, which required the sides to return to the bargaining table within 30 days. Steven Goff,, "MLS may avoid lockout, get season started April 3 after tentative agreement," 5 Feb. 2021 The league invoked a force majeure clause last month to reopen negotiations over the CBA, citing ongoing uncertainty because of the COVID-19 crisis. Anne M. Peterson,, "MLS warns of possible player lockout next week," 29 Jan. 2021 The league invoked its force majeure clause in late December that obligates MLS and the MLSPA to negotiate modifications to the existing CBA in good faith for 30 days, with a deadline in late January., "Mikaela Shiffrin wins spot on 100th podium," 12 Jan. 2021 And yet, there’s talk of teams line-editing force majeure clauses, just in case. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, "IndyCar teams, tracks brace 2021's unknown: 'We need to remind everybody we're still here'," 2 Oct. 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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Time Traveler for force majeure

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The first known use of force majeure was in 1883

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Last Updated

30 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Force majeure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.

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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

Comments on force majeure

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