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Alternative forms[edit]


  • (file)
  • 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, require, or invoke.
    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.
    • 1813 January 27, [Jane Austen], chapter VII, in Pride and Prejudice: [], volume I, London: [] [George Sidney] for T[homas] Egerton, [], →OCLC, page 50:
      Mr. Bennet's property consisted almost entirely in an estate of two thousand a year, which, unfortunately for his daughters, was entailed, in default of heirs male, on a distant relation; and their mother's fortune, though ample for her situation in life, could but ill supply the deficiency of his.
    • 1754-1762, David Hume, The History of England
      Allowing them to entail their estates.
    • c. 1591–1592 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Third Part of Henry the Sixt, []”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene i]:
      I here entail The crown to thee and to thine heirs forever.
    • 2023 January 11, Stephen Roberts, “Bradshaw's Britain: castles and cathedrals”, in RAIL, number 974, page 55:
      Apparently, Henry VII visited the city [Bristol] in 1487, "taking care to entail a sumptuary fine on the citizens because their wives dressed too gaudily".
  3. (transitive, obsolete) To appoint hereditary possessor.
  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.
    • 1754-1762, David Hume, The History of England
      A power of breaking the ancient entails, and of alienating their estates.
    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.
      • 1907, Philip Richard Thornhagh Gurdon, The Khasis, page 88:
        All land acquired by inheritance must follow the Khasi law of entail, by which property descends from the mother to the youngest daughter, and again from the latter to her youngest daughter.
  2. (obsolete) Delicately carved ornamental work; intaglio.
Derived terms[edit]


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, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.)