[ loop-hohl ]
/ ˈlupˌhoʊl /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: loophole / loopholes on Thesaurus.com

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.
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.
verb (used with object), loop·holed, loop·hol·ing.
to furnish with loopholes.
There are grammar debates that never die; and the ones highlighted in the questions in this quiz are sure to rile everyone up once again. Do you know how to answer the questions that cause some of the greatest grammar debates?
Question 1 of 7
Which sentence is correct?

Origin of loophole

First recorded in 1585–95; loop2 + hole
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a loophole?

A loophole is an absence or something vague in a rule or law that allows a person to avoid punishment, as in I was able to keep an alligator in my apartment thanks to a loophole in the housing rules that said only “no dogs allowed.” 

Loopholes often result from poor wording or vague language in a rule or law. Generally, we can expect that anything that is not specifically forbidden or illegal must be allowed. However, this expectation sometimes allows people to get around the law by not violating the exact wording of that law.

For example, a law may say that no one is allowed to walk on the sidewalk after dark. People take advantage of the loophole in this law by skipping, running, or jogging on the sidewalk when it is dark. Technically, they haven’t done anything forbidden by the law so they could not be punished for it.

People who write laws and contracts try to avoid potential loopholes by using very specific language. Parents often have to do the same thing to avoid their children getting around their rules.

Example: The companies used a loophole in the tax code to avoid paying taxes by registering themselves as charities.

Where does loophole come from?

The first records of loophole come around 1585. It combines loop, meaning “something folded on itself, leaving an opening between parts,” with hole, meaning “an opening.” Originally loophole referred to holes in castles or forts that archers could shoot arrows through.

Loopholes are often used in stories and fairy tales for dramatic effect or to create ironic situations. For example, if the hero is magically prevented from visiting his true love during the day and at night, visiting her at twilight would be a loophole.

In both fiction and the real world, loopholes usually only work once. Governments and rulemakers quickly get rid of them as soon as they know they exist.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to loophole?

  • loopholes (plural noun)

What are some synonyms for loophole?

What are some words that share a root or word element with loophole

What are some words that often get used in discussing loophole?

How is loophole used in real life?

Loophole is a common word that often refers to creative ways that people avoid breaking the law or the rules.



Try using loophole!

True or False?

A loophole is vague wording in a law or rule that allows for the punishment of as many people as possible.

How to use loophole in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for loophole

/ (ˈluːpˌhəʊl) /

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