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

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 Similarly, Rouse said any new construction would trigger building code requirements in other parts of the restaurant, upgrades that Bill’s Pizza is current exempt from due to grandfather clauses. Rick Kambic,, "Bill's Pizza in Mundelein hopes to expand with help from the village," 23 Apr. 2018 With some exceptions at the state and local level, nearly all policy proposals to restrict certain types of guns include a grandfather clause that allows people to keep existing firearms and accessories. Benjy Sarlin, NBC News, "Australia’s mandatory gun buyback inspires U.S. activists, but few lawmakers," 12 Mar. 2018 But Ricketts said the Kentucky bill's language is vague enough to raise questions even about the grandfather clause that protects existing solar customers. James Bruggers, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky's fledgling solar industry smacked by one-two punch of U.S. tax and state bill," 24 Jan. 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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Last Updated

6 Feb 2019

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The first known use of grandfather clause was in 1899

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on grandfather clause

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

Comments on grandfather clause

What made you want to look up grandfather clause? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to deny responsibility for

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