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 preclusion (audio) \ noun
preclusive \ pri-​ˈklü-​siv How to pronounce preclusive (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 That the business of fashion was of great interest to Daves didn’t preclude her enjoyment of the metier. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "A New Book, 1950s in Vogue, Celebrates Jessica Daves, the Magazine’s Editor from 1952-1962," 16 Dec. 2019 This novel is an important reminder, even today, that femininity does not preclude a person from having strength of will or brilliance. Beth Py-lieberman, Smithsonian, "Smithsonian Scholars Pick Their Favorite Books of 2019," 28 Nov. 2019 Organizations like Little People of America have spent years dispelling stereotypes, advocating for fairness, and pointing out that having achondroplasia doesn’t preclude anyone from a fulfilling life. Damian Garde, STAT, "A new treatment promises to make little people taller. Is it an insult to ‘dwarf pride’?," 18 Nov. 2019 Roma wasn't eligible for a top Globe award because foreign-language films are precluded from competing in the best picture category. Pamela Mcclintock, The Hollywood Reporter, "Netflix Lands First Best Picture Golden Globe Noms for 'Irishman,' 'Marriage Story,' 'Two Popes' and 'Dolemite'," 9 Dec. 2019 There are other problems with New York’s erstwhile rule, the plaintiffs say: it was precluded by the constitution's Commerce Clause, which prohibits state and local governments from discriminating against businesses from other states. The Economist, "The Supreme Court hears its first gun-rights case in a decade," 2 Dec. 2019 City commissioners said last week they were precluded by state law from taking any action in response to the conviction before Martin’s sentencing on Dec. 10. Rachel Chason, Washington Post, "District Heights mayor suspended following fireworks scandal," 2 Dec. 2019 Even more encouraging, his outburst didn’t preclude his passing. Mike Singer, The Denver Post, "Jamal Murray’s 39-point outburst leads Nuggets in blowout win over Grizzlies," 17 Nov. 2019 Since Lasso's is a loan deal, he isn't precluded from returning to FC Cincinnati at some point. Pat Brennan,, "MLS club FC Cincinnati loans Forrest Lasso out to Nashville SC of the USL Championship," 25 July 2019

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

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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

19 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Preclude.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 25 January 2020.

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More Definitions for preclude


How to pronounce preclude (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of preclude

: to make (something) impossible : to prevent (something) from happening
: to prevent (someone) from doing something
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 preclusion (audio) \ noun
preclusive \ -​ˈklü-​siv How to pronounce preclusive (audio) \ adjective

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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).


dull or mediocre

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