1 : superior or irresistible force
2 : an event or effect that cannot be reasonably anticipated or controlled
Did You Know?
"Force majeure" translates literally from French as "superior force." In English, the term is often used in line with its literal French meaning, but it has other uses as well, including one that has roots in a principle of French law. In business circles, "force majeure" describes those uncontrollable events (such as war, labor stoppages, or extreme weather) that are not the fault of any party and that make it difficult or impossible to carry out normal business. A company may insert a force majeure clause into a contract to absolve itself from liability in the event it cannot fulfill the terms of a contract (or if attempting to do so will result in loss or damage of goods) for reasons beyond its control.
"The [railway] line, which connects the northern Tete province with the coast, was shut on Feb. 12 after heavy rains and a derailment, forcing several cases of force majeure on a number of coal shipment contracts." - From an article on Reuters.com, March 4, 2013
"Those Mets of the late eighties and early nineties were a powerful presence in the city, a celebrity force majeure, but they were always a little short on the field." - From an article by Roger Angell in The New Yorker, May 20, 1996
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