Definitions

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

  • n. Superior or overpowering force.
  • n. An unexpected or uncontrollable event.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. an overwhelming force
  • n. an unavoidable catastrophe, especially one that prevents someone from fulfilling a legal obligation

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Superior force.

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

  • n. a natural and unavoidable catastrophe that interrupts the expected course of events

Etymologies

French : force, force + majeure, greater.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French force majeure (greater force) (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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

  • A good word about now..

    October 1, 2008

  • "'Bless me, the Emperor's envoy has put off already.'

    "'God damn and blast the man,' cried the Admiral, looking angrily at the clock. 'Let him go and ... no: we must not offend the Moors. I shall not have time for Aubrey. Pray tell him so, Mr Yarrow—make my excuses—force majeure—do the civil thing—bid him to dinner and let him bring Dr Maturin; or let them come tomorrow morning, if that don't suit.'"
    --Patrick O'Brian, The Far Side of the World, 18

    OED: "Irresistible force or overwhelming power," from the French for "superior power." In law, something that prevents a party from discharging its obligations.

    February 19, 2008