loop·​hole | \ ˈlüp-ˌhōl How to pronounce loophole (audio) \
plural loopholes

Definition of loophole

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : 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
2a : a small opening through which small arms may be fired
b : a similar opening to admit light and air or to permit observation


loopholed; loopholing; loopholes

Definition of loophole (Entry 2 of 2)

Examples of loophole in a Sentence

Noun 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 Heirs’ property refers to land that has been handed down informally within families, often over several generations; without clear title, the land is vulnerable to legal loopholes that jeopardize ownership. Lizzie Presser, ProPublica, "U.S. Senate Greenlights Funding to Help Prevent Families From Losing Their Land," 30 Oct. 2019 The legal loophole, as the nonprofit journalism group describes it, allows the college aspirants to be looked upon as independents and thereby eligible for more financial aid/scholarship consideration. Rubén Rosario, Twin Cities, "Rosario: On saving a former church and another college scandal," 2 Aug. 2019 The Harlan protest helped reveal some state regulatory loopholes that potentially could come into play in the latest clash between mine owners and workers. Chris Kenning, The Courier-Journal, "No money, no coal: New group of Kentucky miners blocking train over back pay," 14 Jan. 2020 There are many richer targets for loophole elimination. Washington Post, "The Secure Act is exposing the ugly truth about people’s hatred of paying taxes," 13 Jan. 2020 Housing lawyers have told us these leases can be complicated, hard to understand and can include loopholes that put you at a disadvantage. Maya Miller, ProPublica, "What You Need to Know About How Section 8 Really Works," 9 Jan. 2020 Evers wants to end what critics call the dark-store loophole that allows big-box retailers to have their property assessments based on the assessments of vacant competitors. Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Tony Evers gives Republicans 'homework' as he calls for bills on insulin, PFAS and dark stores," 9 Jan. 2020 These companies were knowingly exploiting a loophole to avoid stronger regulation and oversight, and people died because of it. Eric Adams, Wired, "Feds Call Helicopter That Crashed in NYC River a ‘Death Trap’," 20 Dec. 2019 Even though the statutory tax rate for corporations is 21%, corporations are lowering their effective rate below that thanks to legal loopholes and tax breaks, the ITEP study found. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, "Hundreds of companies saw tax rate plunge to 11.3% under Trump tax reform," 17 Dec. 2019

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 2a


1664, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for loophole


loop entry 3

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Time Traveler for loophole

Time Traveler

The first known use of loophole was in 1591

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Statistics for loophole

Last Updated

31 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Loophole.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/loophole. Accessed 19 Feb. 2020.

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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


How to pronounce loophole (audio)

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 How to pronounce loophole (audio) \

Kids Definition of loophole

: a way of avoiding something a loophole in the law

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with loophole

Spanish Central: Translation of loophole

Nglish: Translation of loophole for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of loophole for Arabic Speakers

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