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 preclude (audio) \ noun
preclusive \ pri-​ˈklü-​siv How to pronounce preclude (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 Maintaining and modernizing the nuclear triad does not preclude shrinking the size of the nuclear arsenal. Loren Thompson, Forbes, "No Way Out: Why Nuclear Modernization Is Necessary (In Six Slides)," 24 Feb. 2021 Fortress signed a nondisclosure agreement meant to preclude it from using any confidential information to Steak n Shake’s detriment. Patrick Danner, San Antonio Express-News, "'Threatened' takeover of struggling restaurant chain Steak n Shake triggers lawsuit," 22 Feb. 2021 In her district, Lift Bridge Brewing Co. is nearing the 20,000 barrel mark that would preclude it from selling growlers. Jessie Van Berkel, Star Tribune, "Minnesota's big brewers calling for end to growler limit at State Capitol," 13 Feb. 2021 Durant recovered from Covid-19 last year, but surviving the disease, which imparts a level of antibody defenses, doesn't preclude testing positive anew. NBC News, "Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant pulled from game twice due to Covid-19 concerns," 6 Feb. 2021 Being a helpful neighbor to you does not preclude this person from also being a danger to the public – and the Republic. Detroit Free Press, "Insurrectionists should be reported," 4 Feb. 2021 The agreement with the 47 states — Nevada, Washington and West Virginia weren’t party to it — doesn’t preclude the Biden administration from also seeking legal action against McKinsey. Walt Bogdanich,, "McKinsey settles for $573 million over role in opioid crisis," 3 Feb. 2021 Montgomery, who was convicted of kidnapping and killing a pregnant woman from Missouri, as well as claiming the child as her own, told the court that her mental condition should preclude her from the death penalty. Nicholas Rowan, Washington Examiner, "Death row inmates ask Supreme Court to halt final Trump-era executions," 14 Jan. 2021 Winston echoed that too, saying Brees didn’t give any indication during halftime that his injury would preclude him from playing. Amie Just | Staff Writer,, "Saints hold steady to win over 49ers, but victory soured by injuries to QB Drew Brees, others," 15 Nov. 2020

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 entry 1

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Time Traveler for preclude Time Traveler

The first known use of preclude was circa 1513

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Statistics for preclude

Last Updated

2 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Preclude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for preclude



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

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Comments on preclude

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