(1)   (grammar) an expression including a subject and predicate but not constituting a complete sentence
(2)   A separate section of a legal document (as a statute or contract or will)


< < (Latin diminutive ) < , pp. of ; see close.


  1. A group of two or more words which include a subject and any necessary predicate (the predicate also includes a verb, conjunction, or a preposition) to begin the clause; however, this clause is not considered a sentence for colloquial purposes.
  2. A word or group of words ordinarily consisting of a subject and a predicate; in some languages and types of clauses, the subject may not appear explicitly; one clause may be coordinated with or embedded in another within a single sentence.
  3. A separate part of a contract, a will or another legal document.

Usage notes

An examples of a grammatical dependent clause is When it got dark, they went back into the house. “When it got dark” is the clause within the complete sentence. The conjunction when begins the main clause (when it got dark, …); however, the pronoun it lacks a declared subject causing the reader to expect a subordinate clause to complete the idea.


  1. To amend (a bill of lading or similar document).