in terrorem

adverb or adjective

in ter·​ror·​em
ˌin-te-ˈrōr-əm, -em
: by way of threat or intimidation : serving or intended to threaten or intimidate
overbroad covenants not to compete which have in terrorem effect on employeesJ. D. Calamari and J. M. Perillo

Note: In terrorem is most commonly used to describe a condition in a will that threatens an heir with forfeiture if he or she challenges the validity of the will.

Word History


Latin, so as to produce terror

Dictionary Entries Near in terrorem

Cite this Entry

“In terrorem.” Legal Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Mar. 2023.

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