Exclude vs. Preclude

What's the Difference?

Exclude and preclude are two words that are often used interchangeably, but they have slightly different meanings. Exclude refers to the act of deliberately leaving something or someone out, or not including them in a particular group or category. It implies a conscious decision to keep someone or something separate or apart. On the other hand, preclude means to prevent or make something impossible or unlikely to happen. It suggests taking measures in advance to avoid or hinder a certain outcome. While both words involve the idea of keeping something out, exclude focuses on the act of omission, while preclude emphasizes the act of prevention.


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DefinitionTo deliberately leave out or not include somethingTo prevent or make impossible by prior action
UsageCommonly used in the context of selecting or removing specific elements or individualsOften used to describe actions that prevent or hinder the occurrence of something
MeaningTo keep something out or apartTo make something impossible or unlikely to happen
EtymologyDerived from the Latin word "excludere" meaning "shut out"Derived from the Latin word "praecludere" meaning "to close off"
SynonymsOmit, remove, disregard, eliminatePrevent, hinder, impede, obstruct
AntonymsInclude, incorporate, involveAllow, permit, enable
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Further Detail


When it comes to discussing the attributes of words, it is important to delve into their meanings, nuances, and usage. In this article, we will explore the attributes of two words that are often used interchangeably but have distinct differences: "exclude" and "preclude." While both words convey the idea of preventing or keeping something out, they differ in their connotations, contexts, and applications. By examining these attributes, we can gain a deeper understanding of how to use these words effectively in various situations.

Meaning and Definitions

Let us begin by understanding the meanings of "exclude" and "preclude." The word "exclude" refers to the act of deliberately leaving out or denying access to someone or something. It implies a conscious decision to keep someone or something apart from a particular group, place, or activity. On the other hand, "preclude" means to make something impossible or prevent it from happening. It suggests the idea of hindering or obstructing an event or action from taking place. While both words involve preventing or keeping out, "exclude" focuses more on individuals or objects, whereas "preclude" emphasizes the prevention of events or actions.

Usage and Context

When it comes to usage, "exclude" and "preclude" are often employed in different contexts. "Exclude" is commonly used in social, organizational, or physical settings where individuals or objects are intentionally kept out. For example, a club may exclude certain members based on specific criteria, or a teacher may exclude disruptive students from a classroom activity. On the other hand, "preclude" is frequently used in situations where the prevention of events or actions is the focus. For instance, a lack of funding may preclude the construction of a new building, or a prior commitment may preclude someone from attending an event. Therefore, the context in which these words are used plays a crucial role in determining their appropriate application.

Connotations and Implications

Another aspect to consider when comparing "exclude" and "preclude" is their connotations and implications. "Exclude" often carries a negative connotation, as it implies a deliberate act of rejection or denial. It can evoke feelings of exclusion, discrimination, or unfairness. On the other hand, "preclude" has a more neutral connotation, as it focuses on the prevention of events or actions rather than personal exclusion. It suggests a logical or practical hindrance rather than an intentional act of exclusion. Therefore, the choice between these words can significantly impact the tone and implications of a statement or situation.

Similarities and Differences

While "exclude" and "preclude" have distinct meanings and connotations, they also share some similarities. Both words involve the idea of preventing or keeping something out, whether it is individuals, objects, events, or actions. They both imply a deliberate action to hinder or deny access. However, the key difference lies in their focus and application. "Exclude" primarily pertains to individuals or objects, emphasizing their exclusion from a group or activity. On the other hand, "preclude" focuses on events or actions, highlighting their prevention or impossibility. Understanding these similarities and differences is crucial for using these words accurately and effectively.

Examples and Usage in Sentences

To further illustrate the attributes of "exclude" and "preclude," let us examine some examples of their usage in sentences:

  • She was excluded from the team due to her lack of experience. (Here, "exclude" is used to indicate the deliberate denial of someone's participation based on a specific criterion.)
  • The security measures in place preclude unauthorized access to the building. (In this sentence, "preclude" is used to convey the prevention of unauthorized access through security measures.)
  • The new policy excludes individuals under the age of 18 from attending the event. (Here, "exclude" is employed to specify the exclusion of a particular age group from the event.)
  • His busy schedule precludes him from taking on additional responsibilities. (In this example, "preclude" is used to indicate that the individual's existing commitments prevent him from assuming more responsibilities.)
  • The company's strict dress code excludes employees from wearing casual attire. (In this sentence, "exclude" is used to highlight the prohibition of casual attire for employees.)
  • Technical difficulties precluded the live streaming of the event. (Here, "preclude" is used to explain that technical issues prevented the live streaming of the event.)


In conclusion, while "exclude" and "preclude" share the common theme of preventing or keeping something out, they differ in their meanings, connotations, contexts, and applications. "Exclude" focuses on the deliberate denial or rejection of individuals or objects, often carrying a negative connotation. On the other hand, "preclude" emphasizes the prevention or impossibility of events or actions, with a more neutral connotation. Understanding these attributes is essential for using these words accurately and effectively in various situations. By choosing the appropriate word, we can convey our intentions clearly and avoid any misunderstandings or misinterpretations.

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