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

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

Despite overwhelming opposition, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam defended the legislation as necessary to close legal loopholes with other countries and territories, Reuters reported. Fox News, "Hong Kong delays debate on extradition bill amid intensifying protests," 12 June 2019 Lam has consistently defended the legislation as necessary to close legal loopholes with other countries and territories. Christopher Bodeen, Anchorage Daily News, "Protesters storm Hong Kong’s streets as legislature delays debate on China extradition bill," 12 June 2019 Lam has consistently defended the legislation as necessary to close legal loopholes with other countries and territories. Christopher Bodeen, chicagotribune.com, "Hong Kong police fire tear gas, rubber bullets at protesters fighting Chinese extradition bill," 12 June 2019 Lam, and her pro-Beijing supporters, have insisted that the bill is needed to plug legal loopholes and prevent Hong Kong from becoming a haven for fugitives. Washington Post, "Hong Kong braces for more protests as China extradition bill moves forward," 11 June 2019 The charter school self-dealing scheme alleged in a recent San Diego County indictment is the latest example of how legal loopholes incentivize small school districts to provide little to no oversight of charter schools, critics say. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Some small school districts profit from charter schools," 9 June 2019 Lam’s government argued that the revisions were needed to close legal loopholes, while opponents say that is merely an excuse to pursue China’s agenda of reducing Hong Kong’s legal independence. Christopher Bodeen, BostonGlobe.com, "Hundreds of thousands protest in Hong Kong against proposed extradition law," 9 June 2019 Your seller can sit down with a real estate attorney who has experience getting sellers out of listing agreements through mediation or via legal loopholes. Pat Kapowich, The Mercury News, "Sponsored: Are paying a fee or waiting a few months the only options to ending a contract?," 6 June 2019 Insurance regulators are moving to plug legal loopholes used by a North Carolina insurance-company owner who lent at least $2 billion from his insurers to his personal enterprises. Leslie Scism, WSJ, "Insurance Regulators Move to Close Loopholes," 24 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

State Assembly 1507, for instance, would close the out-of-district charters loophole and forbid charter schools from opening such satellite locations. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Some small school districts profit from charter schools," 9 June 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 1a


1664, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for loophole


loop entry 1

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Dictionary Entries near loophole



loop hinge


loop in

looping snail

loop jump

Statistics for loophole

Last Updated

20 Jun 2019

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 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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