mor·a·to·ri·um | \ˌmȯr-ə-ˈtȯr-ē-əm, ˌmär-\
plural moratoriums or moratoria\-ē-ə \

Definition of moratorium 

1a : a legally authorized period of delay in the performance of a legal obligation or the payment of a debt

b : a waiting period set by an authority

2 : a suspension of activity

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Examples of moratorium in a Sentence

In 2000, Illinois declared a moratorium on executions after 13 death-row inmates were exonerated. — Evan Thomas et al., Newsweek, 19 Nov. 2007 But one country's moratorium is another country's protectionism, and the U.S. is suspicious of Europe's actions. — Jeffrey Kluger, Time, 13 Sept. 1999 The striped bass are recovering strongly after a moratorium on catching them. — John P. Wiley, Jr., Smithsonian, November 1993 Her office was crammed with ungraded school papers, some of them dating back five years. She was far behind in her work—so far behind that she had declared a moratorium on school work until she could catch up on her grading. — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., The Sirens of Titan, 1959 The treaty calls for a nuclear testing moratorium. the director of the blood bank called for a moratorium in donations until the surplus could be used up
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Recent Examples on the Web

In May, she and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., introduced legislation calling for a moratorium on new ICE detention facilities. Joe Garofoli,, "Kamala Harris out front on new litmus test for Dems: What to do about ICE?," 25 June 2018 One of the measures calls for a moratorium on zoning changes and construction along the city’s Washington Street corridor. Leslie Anderson,, "Cape Ann artisans open their studios," 27 May 2018 Harford County has imposed moratoriums on development in two elementary school districts, Emmorton and Magnolia, and one parent is trying to get her children’s school, Homestead-Wakefield Elementary School in Bel Air, added to the list. David Anderson, The Aegis, "Two Harford schools in moratorium status," 1 May 2018 Advocacy groups called for a national moratorium on self-driving tests. Kirsten Korosec, Fortune, "What Happens When a Self-driving Car Is at Fault?," 25 Apr. 2018 Falling birthrates, gentrification and charter school growth have hollowed out its schools, prompting some parents and teachers to call for a moratorium on new charter school openings. Anna M. Phillips,, "Six years after the state came in to save Inglewood Unified, the district faces a budget crisis, buildings in disrepair and lack of steady leadership," 10 Apr. 2018 Call for moratorium Development can harm waterways by replacing forests and fields with asphalt and roofing that prevent rain from naturally filtering into the ground. James Bruggers, The Courier-Journal, "Nature group behind The Parklands wants more homes built near park in eastern Jefferson County," 15 Jan. 2018 The commission voted 4-1 for the moratorium last week. Mary Shanklin,, "Osceola leaders move toward development moratorium to weigh new standards," 23 Oct. 2017 The chairman of the New York City Council’s housing committee, Robert Cornegy Jr., is now calling for a moratorium on enforcement on short-term rentals by individual homeowners, while the issue is studied and rules are changed. Josh Barbanel, WSJ, "Homeowners Face More Fines as NYC Cracks Down on Short-Term Rentals," 10 July 2018

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

1875, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for moratorium

New Latin, from Late Latin, neuter of moratorius dilatory, from Latin morari to delay, from mora delay

New Latin, from Late Latin, neuter of moratorius dilatory, from morari to delay, from mora delay

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Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for moratorium

The first known use of moratorium was in 1875

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English Language Learners Definition of moratorium

: a time when a particular activity is not allowed


mor·a·to·ri·um | \ˌmȯr-ə-ˈtȯr-ē-əm \
plural moratoriums; plural moratoria

Legal Definition of moratorium 

1a : an authorized period of delay in the performance of an obligation (as the paying of a debt)

b : a waiting period set by an authority

2 : a suspension of activity

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