grandfather clause


Definition of grandfather clause

: a clause creating an exemption based on circumstances previously existing especially : a provision in several southern state constitutions designed to enfranchise poor whites and disenfranchise blacks by waiving high voting requirements for descendants of men voting before 1867

Examples of grandfather clause in a Sentence

Because of a grandfather clause, the strict emission standards only apply to new cars.
Recent Examples on the Web And guns purchased before the ban were protected by a grandfather clause. Matthias Gafni,, "Source: Gilroy Garlic Festival shooter’s rifle was legal in Nevada, banned in California," 29 July 2019 The city has said that compliance with current codes wasn’t required because of a grandfather clause in the city’s building code that would apply to the former Park Savoy Hotel. Tyler Blint-welsh, WSJ, "Manhattan Homeless Shelter Gets Green Light as Neighborhood Group Plans Appeal," 12 June 2019 Suzanne Silverstein, president of the West 58th Street Coalition, said in an interview Wednesday that the city was irresponsible for using the grandfather clause. Tyler Blint-welsh, WSJ, "Manhattan Homeless Shelter Gets Green Light as Neighborhood Group Plans Appeal," 12 June 2019 Within the bill is a grandfather clause granting cities with current contracts to continue utilizing red light cameras until the contract is over, unless the contract includes a clause allowing for early cancellation. Chevall Pryce, Houston Chronicle, "New law halts Jersey Village’s plan to reinstall red-light cameras," 6 June 2019 The situation has been debated in the public eye in the past month, with some property owners decrying the grandfather clause, and others saying the new rules, particularly the parking requirement, are too restrictive. Steve Lord, Aurora Beacon-News, "Waiting period will stay in new Aurora property code," 27 June 2018 There is no long-term grandfather clause, but anyone who previously had a bump stock would initially be charged with a Class D misdemeanor for a first-time offender until July 1, 2019. Christopher Keating,, "Gov. Malloy Signs Bill Banning Bump Stocks," 31 May 2018 O’Connell said, while calling for a grandfather clause. Rick Kambic,, "Libertyville delays vote on flood prevention zoning changes," 14 May 2018 The council did, however, extend an olive branch to gun owners in the form of a grandfather clause: residents already in possession of assault weapons will have until the end of the year to receive a certificate proving prior ownership. Christina Capatides, CBS News, "Boulder, Colorado, unanimously votes to ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines," 16 May 2018

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

1899, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of grandfather clause was in 1899

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Last Updated

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Grandfather clause.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for grandfather clause

grandfather clause


Financial Definition of grandfather clause

What It Is

A grandfather clause is a clause that is included as part of a new law that exempts specific parties from the law due to practices that were in place prior to the law's implementation.

How It Works

For example, consider a law that is passed stating that all buildings with three or more stories must be equipped with two elevators.  There may be buildings that were built before the passing of that law that are structurally unable to accommodate this law. Consequently, the law's grandfather clause might state that all such buildings completed before a certain year are exempt and require no alterations.

Why It Matters

When planning a new law, lawmakers often find that it is generally beneficial for certain entities and individuals to be exempt from the new law. This is often due to the fact that such parties have pre-existing conditions or practices concerning which the new law would prove to be unfair or cumbersome.  A grandfather clause is therefore a way to minimize the harmful effects of a new law by limiting its application in cases where it would do more harm than good.

Source: Investing Answers

grandfather clause


English Language Learners Definition of grandfather clause

US, law : a part of a law which says that the law does not apply to certain people and things because of conditions that existed before the law was passed

grandfather clause


Legal Definition of grandfather clause

: a clause creating an exemption (as from a law or regulation) based on circumstances previously existing specifically : a provision inserted in the constitutions of some southern states after the Civil War requiring high standards of literacy and substantial property qualifications of voters except for descendants of men voting before 1867

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with grandfather clause Encyclopedia article about grandfather clause

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