es·​top·​pel e-ˈstä-pəl How to pronounce estoppel (audio)
: a legal bar to alleging or denying a fact because of one's own previous actions or words to the contrary

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Handler is suing for breach of contract and promissory estoppel. Charmaine Patterson,, 24 June 2022 So when exactly did the seller have to deliver the estoppel certificates to the buyer? Joshua Stein, Forbes, 12 Nov. 2021 Citing promissory estoppel, a doctrine that essentially legally enforces a promise, the court ruled in favor of Cosby. Areva Martin, CNN, 1 July 2021 The court dismissed all claims against both the Eiflers except for those of promissory estoppel and unjust enrichment against Eifler Jr., which may be retried. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, 3 July 2019 The players' second claim is for promissory estoppel. Michael Mccann,, 12 July 2018 But his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Kevin Brady, argued that the sentencing could not go forward under a legal principle called collateral estoppel, which is akin to double jeopardy. Michael Kiefer, azcentral, 2 July 2018 The plaintiffs are also claiming breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, promissory estoppel, tortious interference and declaratory judgment against Briggs and McLaughlin. Colin Stutz, Billboard, 13 Mar. 2018 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'estoppel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


probably alteration of Anglo-French estopere stopping, from estoper

First Known Use

1531, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of estoppel was in 1531

Dictionary Entries Near estoppel

Cite this Entry

“Estoppel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2022.

Legal Definition



es·​top·​pel e-ˈstä-pəl How to pronounce estoppel (audio)
: a bar to the use of contradictory words or acts in asserting a claim or right against another
especially : equitable estoppel in this entry compare waiver
equitable estoppel
: an estoppel that prevents a person from adopting a new position that contradicts a previous position maintained by words, silence, or actions when allowing the new position to be adopted would unfairly harm another person who has relied on the previous position to his or her loss

called also estoppel in pais

Note: Traditionally equitable estoppel required that the original position was a misrepresentation which was being denied in the new position. Some jurisdictions retain the requirement of misrepresentation.

estoppel by deed
: an estoppel precluding a person from denying the truth of any matter that he or she asserted in a deed especially regarding his or her title to the property compare after-acquired title at title
estoppel by silence
: an estoppel preventing a person from making an assertion to another's disadvantage when the person previously had the opportunity and duty to speak but failed to do so
estoppel in pais
: equitable estoppel in this entry
file wrapper estoppel
: an estoppel in patent law barring an applicant who has acquiesced in the rejection of a broad claim in the application for a patent from later asserting that a claim deliberately more restricted is equivalent to the original claim

called also prosecution history estoppel

promissory estoppel
: an estoppel that prevents a promisor from denying the existence of a promise when the promisee reasonably and foreseeably relies on the promise and to his or her loss acts or fails to act and suffers an injustice that can only be avoided by enforcement of the promise
prosecution history estoppel
: file wrapper estoppel in this entry
quasi estoppel
: an equitable estoppel that does not require misrepresentation by one party nor reliance or ignorance by the other party
: a bar to the relitigation of issues
collateral estoppel
: estoppel by judgment barring the relitigation of issues litigated by the same parties on a different cause of action
broadly : estoppel by judgment barring the relitigation of issues litigated by the same parties on a different or the same cause of action
direct estoppel
: estoppel by judgment barring the relitigation of issues litigated by the same parties on the same cause of action
estoppel by judgment
: a bar to the relitigation in a second action of issues already determined in a previous action
especially : collateral estoppel in this entry

called also estoppel by verdict, issue preclusion

see also former adjudication compare merger sense 4, res judicata
: the affirmative defense of estoppel
by estoppel
: arising from the operation of estoppel
an entrapment by estoppel

History and Etymology for estoppel

probably from Middle French estoupail plug, stopper, from estouper to stop up see estop

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