Printable Version
Pronunciation: lup-(h)ol Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. An omission in a legal obligation that allows someone or some entity an escape from the obligation. 2. The aperture of a loop. 3. A slit in a fortification for observation or weapons.

Notes: Here is a word without lexical relatives. It may be used as a verb meaning to make loopholes in walls (3rd meaning above). The past participle, loopholed, may be used as an adjective and the present participle, loopholing, may be used as a noun.

In Play: Tax loopholes are the most common ones: "Lucy Lastik relies on Cook, Books, and Hyde accountancy to find all the tax loopholes she needs." The third meaning is still available in the right context: "Most medieval castles have crenelated walls with many loopholes."

Word History: I have always associated today's Good Word with the days when we used loops to connect buttons. But it comes from Middle English loupe, a borrowed Old French word of unknown meaning + hole, a folk etymological extension. Loupe today refers in French and English to the magnifying glasses such as are used by jewelers. Loupe was probably borrowed from a Germanic source such as Middle Dutch lupen "to watch, peer". It most likely referred to an opening you look through, but since Middle English speakers didn't know this, they added hole for clarification. (William Hupy's suggestion of today's Good Word received 2277 views in the Agora as of May 21, 2019, which I take as an indication of the strong interest in it.)

Dr. Goodword,

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