Who coined the use of the word entailment in the logical sense?

And to mean what exactly?

Thank you for any scholarly reference.


For example, there is a definition of "semantic entailment" as necessitation:

ϕ necessitates ψ if and only if, whenever ϕ is true, ψ is also true.

Concerning Abelard . . . He was French, and there is no equivalent for "entailment" in French. His work was in Latin, and he speaks mostly of ‘inferentia’.

In my view, the first use of the word "entailment" in the logical sense was in the 19th or the 20th century, by an English-speaking author.

In Anderson and Belnap (1975), the word "entailment" is used in the context of relevance logic, to denote a theory of implication "strengthened" relatively to the horseshoe, which they say, "isn't an implication at all"..


2 Answers 2


See G.E. Moore, "External and Internal Relations" in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1919-20.

Ref, to the 1922 reprint into Philosophical Studies, page 291:

We require, first of all, some term to express the converse of that relation which we assert to hold between a particular proposition q and a particular proposition p, when we assert that q follows from or is deducible from p. Let us use the term "entails" to express the converse of this relation. We shall then be able to say truly that "p entails q," when and only when we are able to say truly that "q follows from p" or "q is deducible from p," in the sense in which the conclusion of a syllogism in Barbara follows from the two premisses, taken as one conjunctive proposition.

And see page 295 for the discussion about the term "implication" as used by W&R into Principia Mathematica.


The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology gives the following entry:

entail v. involve; require. Probably before 1400 entailen settle (a land estate) on a number of persons in succession, in Wycliffe’s writings (en- make + taile limitation of inheritance to a specified line of heirs; borrowed from Anglo-French taile, Old French taillié, past participle of taillier allot, cut to shape, from Late Latin tāliāre; see TAILOR). A transferred and figurative sense of bestow or confer to specified possessors, is first recorded about 1422, and reappeared in 1509, followed by the general sense of attach to someone, from which evolved the sense of bring on as a consequence, involve, necessitate (1829, in Southey’s Sir Thomas More). —n. Probably before 1400, the limitation of inheritance, in Wycliffe’s writings; from the verb, probably by influence of Old French en taille under a specific condition.

The mentioned use in Sothby's text is in the sentence “To existing individuals this consolation is something like the satisfaction you might feel in learning that a fine estate was entailed upon your family at the expiration of a lease of ninety-nine years from the present time.”

Probably, this nuance found frequent use in the flourishing circle of British logic in the 19th century and took on its technical sense.

  • 4
    The logical sense of entail was specifically introduced by G E Moore in Philosophical Studies (London, 1922), p. 291. He borrowed the term from its legal sense.
    – Bumble
    Apr 15 at 8:58
  • @Bumble "he logical sense of entail was specifically introduced by G E Moore in Philosophical Studies" You're sulking! Anyway, thanks . . . I just started to read it a few days ago but missed the relevant passage; and, he only uses the verb form, entail, never the noun form, "entailment". Apr 15 at 12:36

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