Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A way of escaping a difficulty, especially an omission or ambiguity in the wording of a contract or law that provides a means of evading compliance.
  • n. A small hole or slit in a wall, especially one through which small arms may be fired.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A method of escape, especially an ambiguity or exception in a rule that can be exploited in order to avoid its effect.
  • n. A slit in a castle wall. Later: any similar window for shooting a weapon or letting in light.
  • v. To prepare a building for defense by preparing slits or holes through which to fire on attackers

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A small opening, as in the walls of fortification, or in the bulkhead of a ship, through which small arms or other weapons may be discharged at an enemy.
  • n. A hole or aperture that gives a passage, or the means of escape or evasion.
  • n. An amibiguity or unintended omission in a law, rule, regulation, or contract which allows a party to circumvent the intent of the text and avoid its obligations under certain circumstances. -- used usually in a negative sense; -- distinguished from escape clause in that the latter usually is included to deliberately allow evasion of obligation under certain specified and foreseen circumstances.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A small aperture, narrow toward the outside and splayed within, in the walls of a fortification or of any similar structure, through which small-arms may be fired at an enemy, or observations may be taken.
  • n. An opening into or out of anything; a hole or aperture that gives a passage or the means of escape: often used figuratively, and especially of an underhand or unfair method of escape or evasion.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a small hole in a fortified wall; for observation or discharging weapons
  • n. an ambiguity (especially one in the text of a law or contract) that makes it possible to evade a difficulty or obligation

Etymologies

loop2 + hole.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
loop +‎ hole (Wiktionary)

Examples

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • In castle architecture, a vertical slit for air, light, or shooting (presumably objects) through.

    August 25, 2008

  • It's it great how loophole has so many loops and holes? Somebody had a list for words like this....

    January 20, 2008