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  • IPA(key): /ɛnˈteɪl/, /ɪnˈteɪl/, /ənˈteɪl/
  • Rhymes: -eɪl

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English entaillen, from Old French entaillier, entailler (to notch, literally to cut in); from prefix en- + tailler (to cut), from Late Latin taliare, from Latin talea. Compare late Latin feudum talliatum (a fee entailed, i.e., curtailed or limited).


entail (third-person singular simple present entails, present participle entailing, simple past and past participle entailed)

  1. (transitive) To imply or require.
    This activity will entail careful attention to detail.
  2. (transitive) To settle or fix inalienably on a person or thing, or on a person and his descendants or a certain line of descendants; -- said especially of an estate; to bestow as a heritage.
    • Allowing them to entail their estates. — David Hume.
    • I here entail The crown to thee and to thine heirs forever. — Shakespeare
  3. (transitive, obsolete) To appoint hereditary possessor.
    • To entail him and his heirs unto the crown. — Shakespeare
  4. (transitive, obsolete) To cut or carve in an ornamental way.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English entaille (carving), from Old French entaille (incision), from the verb entailler. See above.


entail (plural entails)

  1. That which is entailed. Hence:
    1. An estate in fee entailed, or limited in descent to a particular class of issue.
    2. The rule by which the descent is fixed.
    • A power of breaking the ancient entails, and of alienating their estates. — David Hume.
  2. (obsolete) Delicately carved ornamental work; intaglio.


Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for entail in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)