View synonyms for loophole


[ loop-hohl ]


  1. 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.

  2. 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.
  3. an opening or aperture.

verb (used with object)

, loop·holed, loop·hol·ing.
  1. to furnish with loopholes.


/ ˈluːpˌhəʊl /


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


  1. tr to provide with loopholes
“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
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Word History and Origins

Origin of loophole1

First recorded in 1585–95; loop 2 + hole
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Word History and Origins

Origin of loophole1

C16: from loop ² + hole
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Example Sentences

At the time of the law’s passage, net-neutrality advocates were deeply concerned that loopholes would allow operators to get away with practices that prioritize some traffic over other traffic, for commercial rather than technical reasons.

From Fortune

The government also was slow to plug a loophole that had allowed over 200,000 people to enter Hong Kong without undergoing quarantine—an exception experts say is responsible for starting the third onslaught of the virus.

From Fortune

Hall and his colleagues plan to address this regulatory loophole and come up with recommendations during a new round of workshops that will start next spring.

MediaTek’s fortunes changed dramatically with Monday’s order, which essentially closed the loophole that MediaTek fit so nicely into.

From Fortune

Zero-rating, by the way, is a sort of loophole that allows internet providers to designate certain websites as counting for zero toward a customer’s data usage.

But, they added, that body scanners are absent at local airports, which they called “this large loophole.”

Would it surprise you to learn there is a loophole in federal disclosure requirements?

Critics say the loophole leads for-profit schools to aggressively target veterans to draw additional federal funding.

Efforts to close the loophole have failed in Washington, but have gained momentum in the states.

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) acknowledged the loophole, but insisted the bill should nevertheless move forward.

No moon, no stars; only a red flash on the ground where the light streamed from a loophole in the great hall.

A narrow loophole barely filtered through a pale ray of light into that semi-Stygian darkness.

All at once he remembered his promise, and a cunning loophole dawned in his foggy brain.

If we got that, and widened a loophole, and shoved it through, it would look just like the muzzle of a cannon in the dark.'

They seem to belong to that commencement of terrible life which the dreamer sees confusedly through the loophole of the night.


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More About Loophole

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.




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