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

More than 30 Democrats in Congress have asked the governor to declare a moratorium on school closings. Patricia Mazzei, New York Times, "Puerto Rico’s Schools Are in Tumult, and Not Just Because of Hurricane Maria," 1 June 2018 Kushner's permission to view top secret information was revoked in February after White House Chief of Staff John Kelly declared a moratorium on temporary security clearances. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, "Jared Kushner, Trump's son in law, has his White House security clearance restored," 23 May 2018 Earlier this year, San Francisco famously imposed a moratorium while waiting to sort out a permitting process that would force companies to pay the city in order to operate their scooters about town. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Bay Area: How can we integrate e-scooters into our cities?," 7 Nov. 2018 But the General Assembly recently extended the moratorium to 2024. Washington Post, "2 cities share name, but 1 is in big trouble," 6 July 2018 Her group, which supported H.B. 2, hopes lawmakers will extend the moratorium on new local nondiscrimination ordinances past 2020. Jonathan Drew, USA TODAY, "North Carolina's transgender rights battle isn't over," 25 June 2018 The action was taken in part because rules on dispensaries won’t be finalized or released until September, and the township’s attorneys have advised against extending the moratorium any longer. Sue Kiesewetter,, "Liberty Twp. puts block on marijuana dispensaries," 8 Feb. 2018 That 60-day time period will expire after this week, so either Holcomb will have to extend the moratorium or — in a more unlikely scenario — lawmakers will have to rush through legislation. Kaitlin L Lange, Indianapolis Star, "Senate panel advances bill to legalize CBD oil," 23 Jan. 2018 At the local level, would-be dispensary operators routinely encounter layers of regulations, if not moratoriums or outright bans, as well as wary landlords and angry neighbors. Lisa Prevost, New York Times, "Despite State Blessing, Marijuana Dispensaries Face Local Rancor," 3 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

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Last Updated

8 Jan 2019

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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

History and Etymology for moratorium

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

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