Legal Dictionary


Legal Definition of waiver


  1. When a person disclaims or renounces to a right that they may have otherwise had. Waivers are not always in writing. Sometimes a person's actions can be interpreted as a waiver.

Related terms

Definition of waiver


    Anglo-Norman weyver from waiver Date: 1628


  • IPA: /weɪvə(r)/, SAMPA: /weI.v@/
  • Rhymes: -eɪvə(r)
  • Homophones: waver


waiver (plural waivers)

  1. The act of waiving, or not insisting on, some right, claim, or privilege.
  2. (law) A legal document releasing some requirement, such as waiving a right (giving it up) or a waiver of liability (agreeing to hold someone blameless). Also used for such a form even before it is filled out and signed.

    I had to sign a waiver when I went skydiving, agreeing not to sue even if something went wrong.
  3. Something that releases a person from a requirement.

    I needed a waiver from the department head to take the course because I didn't technically have the prerequisite courses.

    I needed a waiver from the zoning board for the house because the lot was so small, but they let me build because it was next to the park.

Derived terms

  • waivered



  • Common misspelling of waver.
  • See waive.

Usage notes

  • Sometimes used in puns involving wavering about waivers, the noun, especially in newspaper headlines for sports stories.


  • Alphagram: aeirvw
  • wavier

Further reading

A waiver is the voluntary relinquishment or surrender of some known right or privilege.

While a waiver is often in writing, sometimes a person's actions can act as a waiver. An example of a written waiver is a disclaimer, which becomes a waiver when accepted. Other names for waivers are exculpatory clauses, releases, or hold harmless clauses.

Sometimes the elements of "voluntary" and "known" are established by a legal fiction. In this case, it is presumed one knows his or her rights and that those rights are voluntarily relinquished if they are not asserted at the time.

In civil procedure, certain arguments must be raised in the first objection that a party submits to the court, or else they will be deemed waived.


The following represent a general overview of considerations; specifics may vary dramatically depending on the jurisdiction.

Key factors that some courts (depending on jurisdiction) may look at when determining the applicability of a waiver:

  • In some jurisdictions, one may not prospectively waive liability for some or all intentional activities.
  • Waivers generally must be made voluntarily and with the full knowledge (or the ability to know) of the right being waived.
  • The waiver should be unambiguous and clear to a reasonable person.
  • In some jurisdictions (not including the United States), it may be necessary that the parties to the waiver have equal bargaining power.
  • A waiver may have limited application where one contracts for an "essential service" such that it may violate public policy for liability to be waived.


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


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