loop·​hole | \ˈlüp-ˌhōl \

Definition of loophole 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a small opening through which small arms may be fired

b : a similar opening to admit light and air or to permit observation

2 : a means of escape especially : an ambiguity or omission in the text through which the intent of a statute, contract, or obligation may be evaded


loopholed; loopholing; loopholes

Definition of loophole (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make loopholes in

Examples of loophole in a Sentence


She took advantage of a loophole in the tax law. His attorney has been hunting for a loophole that would allow him to get out of the deal. tried to close a loophole in the new legislation
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Garcia, an education professor and military veteran who used to work for the state Department of Education, also supports the Invest In Education Act and eliminating corporate loopholes — as well as changing testing policies. Melissa Daniels, azcentral, "Democratic governor hopefuls debate ed funding, AZ's ties with Mexican state of Sonora," 11 July 2018 The rollback was immediately condemned by environmental groups, which have appealed to the White House to block the EPA from creating the loophole. Eric Lipton, BostonGlobe.com, "‘Super polluting’ trucks receive loophole on Pruitt’s last day," 7 July 2018 To wit: These are the same two aides who were slated to receive huge raises under a loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act after the White House had already declined to grant the pay bumps. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Scott Pruitt’s strategy for dealing with his scandals looks a lot like Trump’s," 8 June 2018 By carrying out its hunts in the name of science, Japan is able to exploit a loophole in international regulations that allow certain quotas of whales to be killed for research. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Japan Killed 112 Pregnant Whales in the Name of Scientific Research," 30 May 2018 The surest way to solve the problem would be to close the loophole in the third-country agreement. The Economist, "Canada qualifies its welcome to asylum-seekers," 12 May 2018 The legislation raised the age for gun purchases from 18 to 21 and created a three-day waiting period for most firearm purchases — although, as Graham noted, the gun-show loophole is alive and well. refinery29.com, "Gwen Graham Is Running For Governor So That Parkland Never Happens Again," 11 May 2018 But someone convicted of attempting, conspiring or soliciting another to commit a serious crime is allowed to have a firearm due to a loophole in the crimes code. Justine Mcdaniel, Philly.com, "Gun safety after Parkland: Here's every idea the Pa. House has. Will any become reality?," 19 Apr. 2018 And people want to close gun show loopholes and the like. Fox News, "Hunt for serial bomber intensifies in Texas," 21 Mar. 2018

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


1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1664, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for loophole


loop entry 1

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Learn More about loophole

Dictionary Entries near loophole



loop hinge


loop in

looping snail

loop jump

Statistics for loophole

Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for loophole

The first known use of loophole was in 1591

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More Definitions for loophole



Financial Definition of loophole

What It Is

A loophole is an exception that allows a system to be circumvented or avoided.  It usually refers to legal, taxation, or security strategies that are exploited for personal gain.

How It Works

Loopholes are failures of a system to account for all conditions, variables, or exceptions.   To illustrate a legal loophole, consider a local development law that requires even an unoccupied building to pay real estate taxes so long as it receives a certificate of completion.  In order to avoid paying taxes, a builder may exploit this loophole and choose not to "complete" the building.

An example of a tax loophole is the tax break for small businesses who invest in "heavy vehicles". The tax break applies if the vehicle is used at least 50% of the time for the business.   Business owners may exploit this loophole by upgrading their own vehicles to SUVs, which are considered "heavy" under the tax law, and thereby gain a personal financial advantage.

In most instances, loopholes that lead to excessive abuse are corrected by subsequent regulations and laws.

Why It Matters

While loopholes may save money or allow a purchase that would otherwise not be economical, the use of loopholes is considered questionable. Exploiting loopholes may lead to intensive scrutiny and audits, or even just a feeling of bad faith.  For example, a tax payer should be aware when a tax consultant advises of specific tax advantage of whether the advantage is claimed on the basis of an allowable deduction or a loophole.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of loophole

: an error in the way a law, rule, or contract is written that makes it possible for some people to legally avoid obeying it


loop·​hole | \ˈlüp-ˌhōl \

Kids Definition of loophole

: a way of avoiding something a loophole in the law

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Comments on loophole

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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