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

Definition of preclude

transitive verb

1 : to make impossible by necessary consequence : rule out in advance
2 archaic : close

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Other Words from preclude

preclusion \ pri-​ˈklü-​zhən How to pronounce preclusion (audio) \ noun
preclusive \ pri-​ˈklü-​siv How to pronounce preclusive (audio) , -​ziv \ adjective
preclusively adverb

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Prosecutors are not precluded from refiling charges against the defendants in the future. Mimi Hsin Hsuan Sun And Tatyana Walker, CNN, "Prosecutors drop criminal charges in Flint water scandal," 13 June 2019 And if donors want to sign up as organ donors, Smith said that doesn't preclude enrollment. Stephanie Innes,, "Arizona is a hotbed for the cadaver industry, and potential donors have plenty of options," 10 June 2019 Officials Thursday could not estimate how many SRP customers are precluded from voting, but in the past estimated the figure at about 321,000 out of about 1 million customers. Ryan Randazzo, azcentral, "SRP system for electing leaders criticized as unfair and undemocratic," 6 June 2019 The cries of socialism continued to fly, with accusations that the TVA had precluded all sorts of private developments that somehow had never materialized until the federal government started building at Muscle Shoals. Kevin Baker, Harper's magazine, "Where Our New World Begins," 10 May 2019 But lawyers weren’t precluded from seizing on it during the trial, and both sides often evoked the cultural shift taking place outside the courtroom., "How Cosby verdict could signal #MeToo impact on criminal justice system," 28 Apr. 2018 Failing any one of the three parts of this test will preclude an entity from treating a worker as an independent contractor rather than an employee. Dan Eaton,, "California Supreme Court narrowly defines independent contractor," 14 May 2018 Shah pointed out Monday that the administration had targeted some officials close to the Kremlin strongman in response to Russian election meddling and wouldn't preclude further such action. Stephen Collinson And Zachary Cohen, CNN, "US punishes Russia but Trump hedges bets on Putin," 26 Mar. 2018 That was just a mere technical demonstration of a much wider possibility of the digital production of firearms, which is in no way precluded by current law. Fox News, "John Bolton on Maduro 'assassination' attempt, Russian election meddling," 5 Aug. 2018

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

circa 1513, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for preclude

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

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Statistics for preclude

Last Updated

22 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for preclude

The first known use of preclude was circa 1513

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English Language Learners Definition of preclude

: to make (something) impossible : to prevent (something) from happening
: to prevent (someone) from doing something


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

Legal Definition of preclude

: to prevent or exclude by necessary consequence: as
a : 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)
b : 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

Other Words from preclude

preclusion \ -​ˈklü-​zhən How to pronounce preclusion (audio) \ noun
preclusive \ -​ˈklü-​siv How to pronounce preclusive (audio) \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on preclude

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with preclude

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for preclude

Spanish Central: Translation of preclude

Nglish: Translation of preclude for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of preclude for Arabic Speakers

Comments on preclude

What made you want to look up preclude? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to take the place or position of

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