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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

This will unfortunately preclude my visits to Paris and Berlin. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Michelle Obama Honors George H.W. Bush in Moving Instagram Post," 3 Dec. 2018 The Hill notes that the Obama administration created a number of new national monuments to preclude drilling operations. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "Drilling on US public lands causes 24 percent of the nation’s CO2 emissions," 27 Nov. 2018 That can preclude participation of some inner-city and minority children, keeping talent out of the player pool. Rich Campbell,, "Missing World Cup can't be in vain for U.S. men's national team," 13 July 2018 Suu Kyi is once again skipping the General Assembly — but her absence doesn’t preclude the international community from condemning Myanmar, or from taking collective action. Jen Kirby, Vox, "New UN report documents evidence of mass atrocities in Myanmar against the Rohingya," 18 Sep. 2018 The small numbers today don't necessarily preclude growth for this behavior in the future, though. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Only a small percentage of users buys stuff through Alexa, report claims," 7 Aug. 2018 That fact doesn't preclude the occurrence from being deemed a church miracle. Fox News, "Investigation into weeping Virgin Mary statue continues," 16 July 2018 But the pilot commitment does not preclude any of the others from moving forward. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "'Game of Thrones' prequel set thousands of years earlier gets HBO pilot," 8 June 2018 For one, the theory makes sense only in direct sunlight: in the shade, the lack of juxtaposition between hot black air and cool white air would preclude the formation of icy vortexes. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Settling a Heated Debate—Do Zebra Stripes Keep These Animals Cool?," 10 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.

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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

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Statistics for preclude

Last Updated

19 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for preclude

The first known use of preclude was circa 1513

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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 \
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

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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

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tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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