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  • A portion of territory within or surrounded by a larger territory whose inhabitants are culturally or ethnically distinct.
  • A place or group that is different in character from those surrounding it.

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Example Sentences

“You must cross over at least one bridge to enter the enclave of the old city.”

“We’re spending most of the week in Rome, but I want to spend a full day in the enclave of Vatican City.”

“The new zoning laws created an enclave for an additional school district.”

Word Origin

Latin, mid-19th century

Why this word?

As a key fits into a lock, so does an enclave fit into the surrounding country or territory. The word “enclave” comes from the Latin “clavis,” meaning “key,” but it stopped in French with the word “enclaver,” meaning “enclose,” before it entered English. One of the smallest countries in the world, San Marino, is an enclave. It’s located in the northern part of the boot-shaped Italian peninsula, entirely landlocked by the country of Italy. The enclave of Lesotho is surrounded by South Africa. Other enclaves around the world separate cities or cultural groups, rather than national borders, but the defining characteristic of an enclave is that it is surrounded by something else.

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