verb pre·clude \ pri-ˈklüd \
Updated on: 14 Apr 2018

Definition of preclude

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


play \pri-ˈklü-zhən\ noun


play \pri-ˈklü-siv, -ziv\ adjective



Examples of preclude in a Sentence

  1. 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 ErdrichHarper'sMay 1993
  2. … 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 StyronAmerican HeritageOctober 1992
  3. 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 GouldWonderful Life1989
  4. … 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 KrakauerSmithsonianNovember 1987
  5. She suffered an injury that precluded the possibility of an athletic career.

  6. Bad weather precluded any further attempts to reach the summit.

Recent Examples of preclude from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of preclude

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

PRECLUDE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of preclude for English Language Learners

  • : to make (something) impossible : to prevent (something) from happening

  • : to prevent (someone) from doing something

Law Dictionary


transitive verb pre·clude \ pri-ˈklüd \

legal Definition of preclude

precluded; precluding
: 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 assert
  • Roach 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 Act
  • National Law Journal


play \-ˈklü-zhən\ noun


play \-ˈklü-siv\ adjective

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unwilling or reluctant

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