grandfather clause

noun
1.
U.S. History. a clause in the constitutions of some Southern states after 1890 intended to permit whites to vote while disfranchising blacks: it exempted from new literacy and property qualifications for voting those men entitled to vote before 1867 and their lineal descendants.
2.
any legal provision that exempts a business, class of persons, etc., from a new government regulation that would affect prior rights and privileges.

Origin:
1895–1900, Americanism

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World English Dictionary
grandfather clause
 
n
1.  (US) history a clause in the constitutions of several Southern states that waived electoral literacy requirements for lineal descendants of people voting before 1867, thus ensuring the franchise for illiterate White people: declared unconstitutional in 1915
2.  a clause in legislation that forbids or regulates an activity so that those engaged in it are exempted from the ban

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Example sentences
Surprisingly, the changes signed last month establishing the tuition cap failed to include a grandfather clause.
Supports grandfather clause and urges the board to determine an implementation date.
The statute also exempts, under a grandfather clause, certain long-term license holders from potential license revocation.
The revised statutes made the operation of certain machines illegal unless exempted by a grandfather clause under the statute.
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