grandfather clause


noun

U.S. History. a clause in the constitutions of some Southern states after 1890 intended to permit whites to vote while disfranchising blacks: it exempted from new literacy and property qualifications for voting those men entitled to vote before 1867 and their lineal descendants.
any legal provision that exempts a business, class of persons, etc., from a new government regulation that would affect prior rights and privileges.

Nearby words

  1. grande prairie,
  2. grande-terre,
  3. grandee,
  4. grandeur,
  5. grandfather,
  6. grandfather clock,
  7. grandfather's chair,
  8. grandfather's clock,
  9. grandfatherly,
  10. grandgent

Origin of grandfather clause

An Americanism dating back to 1895–1900

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


British Dictionary definitions for grandfather clause

grandfather clause

noun

US history a clause in the constitutions of several Southern states that waived electoral literacy requirements for lineal descendants of people voting before 1867, thus ensuring the franchise for illiterate White people: declared unconstitutional in 1915
a clause in legislation that forbids or regulates an activity so that those engaged in it are exempted from the ban
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012