Definition of grandfather clause in English:

grandfather clause


North American
  • A clause exempting certain pre-existing classes of people or things from the requirements of a piece of legislation.

    • ‘Built in the early 1960s, the building was not equipped with automatic fire sprinklers because of a so-called grandfather clause that didn't require older buildings to undergo the equipment renovation.’
    • ‘A grandfather clause in that Act stated that the Act was not to affect an existing privilege as defined in the Crown Minerals Act.’
    • ‘A rule such as this most likely would include a grandfather clause so members wouldn't be forced to breach existing contracts.’
    • ‘If the rule had changed, weren't we entitled to some grandfather clause until Michael reached twelve?’
    • ‘And if a salary cap is implemented, the agreement almost certainly will include a grandfather clause that will give teams a certain number of years to reduce their payroll to the required level.’
    • ‘A $10 minimum wage with a grandfather clause would be equally bad.’
    • ‘The only significant exception was a grandfather clause, limiting the new, higher building and plumbing standards to future construction.’
    • ‘It also allowed claimholders to sell the claims to new owners who could take advantage of the grandfather clause.’
    • ‘They want a grandfather clause, if you will, so they can continue to fulfill existing contracts.’
    • ‘In a grandfather clause, it allowed these plants to continue polluting at then-current levels, but stipulated that they could not carry out substantial renovations that would extend their productive capacity.’
    • ‘The Act doesn't provide any grandfather clauses if you like, for old lists or anything like that.’


Early 20th century: from a clause in the constitutions of some Southern states, exempting from voting restrictions the descendants of men who voted before the Civil War.