Definition of loophole in English:



  • 1An ambiguity or inadequacy in the law or a set of rules.

    ‘they exploited tax loopholes’
    • ‘Consumer groups last night accused the industry of hiding crucial exclusion clauses amid pages of legalese, and warned that insurers were increasingly likely to exploit loopholes and ambiguity in the small print.’
    • ‘The Government has been accused of fostering a tax avoidance culture after it emerged that millions have been lost on a tax loophole.’
    • ‘Indeed, for reasons that are well beyond me, that particular jurisdiction actually designs tax loopholes to be exploited by a variety of companies.’
    • ‘According to the tax expert, accountancy and banking advisers are engaged in a continuous contest of spotting and exploiting tax loopholes.’
    • ‘The loophole in the rules effectively means that every season a couple of clubs have two chances to win the cup.’
    • ‘And it's not enough just to denounce corporations that exploit tax loopholes; the real answer is to deny them the opportunity.’
    • ‘He developed an international reputation by exploiting a loophole letting US companies cut their tax burden.’
    • ‘He is still entitled to pick up £192 for each day he signs in, plus first-class travel for himself and his wife to their home in Argyllshire, by exploiting a loophole in the expenses rules.’
    • ‘However, if officials sometimes don't want to release certain information, they can still find loopholes in the new rules.’
    • ‘She chooses to improvise, to break rules, to find loopholes.’
    • ‘The governor also said laws are under review to preclude ambiguity and to close loopholes allowing suspects to evade arrest.’
    • ‘And even schools that participate can use huge loopholes to circumvent rules.’
    • ‘Politicians exploit loophole in rules on housing expenses’
    • ‘The council promised to introduce new rules to close a loophole allowing people with such serious criminal pasts to drive cabs.’
    • ‘Tax avoidance schemes aim to exploit loopholes in the law that allow those with hefty tax liabilities to cut their bills dramatically and, in some cases, reduce them to zero.’
    • ‘And I have specific proposals that include ending tax loopholes and tax shelters that will help address the budget deficit.’
    • ‘So, has he merely and cleverly taken advantage of a loophole in the rules?’
    • ‘There are few, if any, ambiguities and no apparent loopholes or omissions.’
    • ‘But some professional investors and hedge funds take advantage of loopholes in the rules to sell shares without making any attempt to borrow the stock.’
    • ‘I have certainly bent the rules, or found loopholes to use to my advantage.’
    means of avoidance, means of evasion, means of escape, escape clause, escape route
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  • 2historical An arrow slit in a wall.

    • ‘Domestic buildings in the right place could be fortified by having their walls pierced by loopholes, their floors either removed or strengthened, and their doors and windows blocked.’
    • ‘It looked more like a castle than a railhead, with solid stone walls pierced by tiny loopholes.’
    • ‘Its facade mixes Georgian colonnades with the loopholes and turrets of a mediaeval castle; above, Palladian arcades rise to Mughal copulas.’
    • ‘Like the police checkposts en route, most farmsteads are fortified with high walls and loopholes.’
    hole, gap, opening, aperture, chink, slit, slot
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[with object]
  • Make arrow slits in (a wall)

    ‘the walls of the barracks were loopholed for muskets’
    • ‘The troops could not immediately and effectually reply to this fire, for their opponents were hidden behind the loopholed wall.’
    • ‘The Officers Mess, constructed of sandstone and with a distinctive loopholed wall for defensive purposes, is a particularly fine example of late nineteenth century defence design and building.’
    • ‘The other bank of the stream was open ground - a gentle slope topped with a stockade of vertical tree trunks, loopholed for rifles, with a single embrasure through which protruded the muzzle of a brass cannon commanding the bridge.’


Late 16th century (denoting an arrow slit): from obsolete loop ‘embrasure’ + hole.