pre·​clude pri-ˈklüd How to pronounce preclude (audio)
precluded; precluding

transitive verb

: to make impossible by necessary consequence : rule out in advance
archaic : close
preclusion noun
preclusive adjective
preclusively adverb

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Preclude Uses Within and Outside Law

Preclude is often used in legal writing, where it usually refers to making something legally impossible. A new law may be passed by Congress to preclude any suits of a certain kind against a federal agency, for example. Some judges have found that the warnings on cigarette packs preclude any suits against the tobacco companies by lung-cancer sufferers. But there are plenty of nonlegal uses as well. Bad weather often precludes trips to the beach, and a lack of cash might preclude any beach vacation at all.

Examples of preclude in a Sentence

I fear these things, but vaguely, for my brain buzzes in the merciful wash of endorphins that preclude any thought from occupying it too long. Louise Erdrich, Harper's, May 1993
… the institution [of slavery] in the United States was almost uniquely despotic, a closed system so powerful and totalitarian that organized insurrection was almost entirely precluded … William Styron, American Heritage, October 1992
But conceptual blinders can preclude observation, while most accurate generalities guarantee no proper resolution of specific anatomies, but can certainly guide perceptions along fruitful paths. Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life, 1989
… the same profusion of water that precluded overland travel in the summer months could, during the sledgehammer freeze of winter, be utilized as a natural highway—albeit a highway of ice. Jon Krakauer, Smithsonian, November 1987
She suffered an injury that precluded the possibility of an athletic career. Bad weather precluded any further attempts to reach the summit. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Unfortunately the cost for them was giving up their reservation, also precluding any official federal recognition when that became a thing many decades later. Brian T. Allen, National Review, 23 Nov. 2023 But that does not preclude another similar fraud taking place in future, says Wuckert Jr., particularly while there remains a lack of regulatory clarity with respect to crypto in jurisdictions like the US. WIRED, 3 Nov. 2023 This study was observational in nature, precluding the ability to determine a cause-and-effect relationship between meat intake and diabetes risk. Nick Blackmer, Verywell Health, 2 Nov. 2023 His ability to remix and rematch pieces adds depth to his closet, precluding the need for a bigger one. Astrid Kayembe, Los Angeles Times, 26 Oct. 2023 Substance abuse disorders and mental illnesses are identified by the very symptoms that preclude their sufferers from escaping them. Wilson M. Sims, Longreads, 7 Sep. 2023 Smith’s team has argued that the clause was meant to limit Congress’s power to removing and disqualifying presidents from office, not to preclude the prosecution of those who escaped removal. Perry Stein, Washington Post, 24 Oct. 2023 Not only could a successful Ukrainian self-defense perhaps help dissuade China from moving on Taiwan, but the U.S. commitment to Ukraine has also not precluded the sale of U.S. weapons systems and platforms to Taiwan. The Editors, National Review, 20 Sep. 2023 For years, the city has maintained that existing laws preclude people from renting out homes to guests for less than 30 days, unless the host is present during the stay. Mihir Zaveri, New York Times, 5 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'preclude.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin praecludere, from prae- + claudere to close — more at close entry 1

First Known Use

circa 1513, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of preclude was circa 1513

Dictionary Entries Near preclude

Cite this Entry

“Preclude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


pre·​clude pri-ˈklüd How to pronounce preclude (audio)
precluded; precluding
: to make impossible beforehand : prevent
the injury precluded the possibility of a career in sports

Legal Definition


transitive verb
pre·​clude pri-ˈklüd How to pronounce preclude (audio)
precluded; precluding
: to prevent or exclude by necessary consequence: as
: to prevent (a party) from litigating an action or claim especially by collateral estoppel or res judicata
they are precluded only because they failed to assert…the grounds for recovery they now assertRoach v. Teamsters Local Union No. 688, 595 F.2d 446 (1979)
: to prevent (a claim or action) from being litigated especially by collateral estoppel or res judicata
the Civil Service Reform Act provides the exclusive address for adverse federal employment actions and thus precludes claims brought under the Tort Claims ActNational Law Journal
preclusion noun
preclusive adjective

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