• A subdivision of a paragraph or subparagraph within a legal document such as a contract. A clause is usually numbered or lettered for easy reference.


  • noun a distinct section of a document, especially a legal document, that is usually separately numbered


  • noun a section of a contract or of the constitution of a country or political party
  • noun a part of a bill being considered by parliament, which becomes a section of an Act

Origin & History of “clause”

The etymological notion underlying clause is of ‘closing’ or ‘termination’. The word derives ultimately from Latin claudere (source of English close) and was originally applied either as a rhetorical term to the conclusion of a sentence, or as a legal term to the termination of a legal argument. Gradually, in both cases, the element of finality fell away, leaving the senses ‘short sentence’ and ‘section of a legal document’, which passed into English. The past participle of Latin claudere, clausus, probably produced an unrecorded noun *clausa (known only in its diminutive form clausula), which passed into English via Old French clause.