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 Dan Harris of Harris Bricken, an American law firm, worries that today’s trickle of mainland suppliers declaring force majeure (FM), an obscure legal manoeuvre used to get out of contracts, could turn into a tidal wave. The Economist, "Chinese firms use obscure legal tactics to stem virus losses," 20 Feb. 2020 The Chinese reportedly authorized exporters to claim force majeure, which involves extenuating circumstances that have prevented a company from fulfilling contractual obligations. Grace Schneider, The Courier-Journal, "UPS says coronavirus is already cutting demand and disrupting supply chains," 28 Feb. 2020 But like business interruption insurance, making the case that force majeure clauses apply to epidemics might be a stretch. Naomi Xu Elegant, Fortune, "The coronavirus is crushing business. Could insurance lessen the blow?," 27 Feb. 2020 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

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

19 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Force majeure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Mar. 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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