a small or narrow opening, as in a wall, for looking through, for admitting light and air, or, particularly in a fortification, for the discharge of missiles against an enemy outside.
an opening or aperture.
a means of escape or evasion; a means or opportunity of evading a rule, law, etc.: There are a number of loopholes in the tax laws whereby corporations can save money.

verb (used with object), loop·holed, loop·hol·ing.

to furnish with loopholes.

Origin of loophole

First recorded in 1585–95; loop2 + hole
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for loophole

alternative, technicality, outlet

Examples from the Web for loophole

Contemporary Examples of loophole

Historical Examples of loophole

  • The minister was weakening most lamentably, giving her husband a loophole to escape.


    W. A. Fraser

  • From every side he attacked the problem, but nowhere could he find the loophole he sought.

    Under Arctic Ice

    H.G. Winter

  • "Well," Captain Jerry wriggled and twisted, but saw no loophole.

    Cap'n Eri

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

  • He saw it now, and saw that the only loophole was the chance this combat offered him.

    The Strolling Saint

    Raphael Sabatini

  • For myself, if I fail, there may well be some loophole of escape.



British Dictionary definitions for loophole



an ambiguity, omission, etc, as in a law, by which one can avoid a penalty or responsibility
a small gap or hole in a wall, esp one in a fortified wall


(tr) to provide with loopholes

Word Origin for loophole

C16: from loop ² + hole
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

Word Origin and History for loophole

also loop-hole, mid-15c., from Middle English loupe "opening in a wall" for shooting through or admitting light (c.1300), perhaps related to Middle Dutch lupen "to watch, peer;" + hole (n.). Figurative sense of "outlet, means of escape" is from 1660s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper