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 Gazprom slashed gas deliveries through Nord Stream 1 to 40 percent of its capacity on June 14, the date the company later indicated as the start of the force majeure. Claire Parker, Washington Post, 19 July 2022 The Rules of the Eurovision Song Contest, that all participating broadcasters agree upon, clearly state that the event can be moved in a force majeure situation such as an ongoing war. K.j. Yossman, Variety, 23 June 2022 Approximately 600 multinational companies have departed Russia and slammed the door behind them, hardly glancing at their force majeure and material adverse change clauses on their way out. Alexandra Wrage, Forbes, 5 May 2022 In Germany, a force majeure is in place across distribution and storage assets owned by Mabanaft Group, within which the Oiltanking Deutschland operates. Rachel Graham,, 4 Feb. 2022 The master license agreement between the Tournament of Roses and Pasadena requires the game to be held in the Rose Bowl stadium except in the event of a force majeure that allows for the game to be moved. Los Angeles Times, 22 Mar. 2022 Nagacorp’s statement said the company was using the force majeure clause set out in its investment agreement and suspends all operations. Yessar Rosendar, Forbes, 7 Mar. 2022 The team, however, could withhold her rights preventing her from signing with another team because Russia had not officially invaded Ukraine, which would have allowed Godblod to invoke the force majeure clause in her contract. Los Angeles Times, 2 Mar. 2022 Under the legal clause force majeure, a party that does not live up to a contract can be excused because of events beyond the party’s control. Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times, 15 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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

28 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Force majeure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

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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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