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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web And the Dodgers’ schedule begins in hitter-friendly Coors Field before featuring several quick days off that should preclude the team from needing to give their regulars much rest early on. Los Angeles Times, 31 Mar. 2022 Brandon Council shouldn’t preclude the trio from playing against the Bulldogs. Nubyjas Wilborn |, al, 10 Nov. 2021 Yet that doesn’t preclude manager Joe Maddon from employing small ball when the situation calls for it. Houston Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 28 Apr. 2022 The judge’s ruling doesn’t preclude local authorities and private companies from requiring masks. Washington Post, 19 Apr. 2022 The settlement does not preclude Cineflix workers from forming a union and negotiating a collective agreement. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 4 Apr. 2022 Retaining Robinson doesn’t preclude Jacksonville adding another offensive tackle with the first choice in the 2022 NFL Draft. Mark Inabinett |, al, 28 Mar. 2022 This did not preclude Polymer80 from selling the kits. NBC News, 27 Mar. 2022 Still, all that moving doesn’t preclude sharks from having a rest. New York Times, 9 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of preclude was circa 1513

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Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Preclude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for preclude


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

More from Merriam-Webster on preclude

Nglish: Translation of preclude for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of preclude for Arabic Speakers


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