pre·​clude | \pri-ˈklüd \
precluded; precluding

Definition of preclude 

transitive verb

1 archaic : close

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from preclude

preclusion \ pri-​ˈklü-​zhən \ noun
preclusive \ pri-​ˈklü-​siv , -​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

The rubber barriers precluded the need for manual unchaining. Martine Powers, Washington Post, "Metro asks FTA to reconsider year-end deadline for installing safety barriers to 7000-series trains," 29 June 2018 This could preclude reform through President Trump’s first term, and perhaps forever. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Autumn of ObamaCare," 11 June 2018 Current electronic eavesdropping laws preclude government officials from disabling drones midair with electromagnetic signals. W.j. Hennigan, Time, "Experts Say Drones Pose a National Security Threat — and We Aren’t Ready," 31 May 2018 And so there -- the radio silence precluded the opportunity to do some of that preparation work in advance of the two sitting down. CNN, "READ: The White House's background briefing on the North Korea Summit," 27 May 2018 None of their free agent signings, though, precluded picking a player at that position. Dan Labbe,, "NFL Draft 2018: Browns choose secondary over pass rush by picking Denzel Ward at No. 4," 27 Apr. 2018 Filming for Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events precluded Warburton from paying close attention to recent happenings around the league. Alex Prewitt,, "Q&A: Patrick Warburton on Being 'Seinfeld's' David Puddy and Surprise Devils Game 4 Appearance," 23 Apr. 2018 Board rules precluded Heiner or any other new members from being elected chair. Morgan Watkins, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt resigns under pressure," 17 Apr. 2018 But millions of Christians around the world find their faith enriched by joining organizations like it, and that shouldn’t preclude them from participating in public life. Adam O’neal, WSJ, "Inside Amy Coney Barrett’s ‘Cult’," 5 July 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.

See More

First Known Use of preclude

circa 1513, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for preclude

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about preclude

Statistics for preclude

Last Updated

9 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for preclude

The first known use of preclude was circa 1513

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 \
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 \ noun
preclusive \ -​ˈklü-​siv \ adjective

Keep scrolling for more

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).


full of whispering sounds

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!