The Meaning of In Lieu Of: What It Is and How To Use It

Have you ever been confused by the term in lieu of? This guide will provide you with all of the info you need on the term in lieu of, including its definition, etymology, example sentences, and more!

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What is the definition of in lieu of?

According to Cambridge Unabridged English Dictionary, Chicago Tribune, and Vocabulary, amongst other dictionary apps, the term in lieu of means instead of, or in place of. To be in lieu of something is to replace or substitute said thing. The word lieu on its own is used as a noun to mean the position that was previously held by another thing or person. However, in modern times, the word lieu is almost exclusively used in the phrase in lieu of. For example, someone might choose to take a lump sum in lieu of  monthly payments if they win the lottery, or if someone passes away, the family might ask for donations toward a favorite cause of the deceased in lieu of flowers. Two people might opt to make a trade in lieu of payment. This is a very common, versatile form that is often seen in the English language.

What is the origin of the term in lieu of?

According to Etymonline, the word lieu, pronounced “luː”, began being used in the late 13th century. This comes from the Old French lieu or Old French lou, which meant place, position, situation or rank. Lou and lieu were used beginning in the 10th century, and are where we get words like lieutenant. These Old French terms come from the Latin locum, which is the nominative form of the Latin locus.

Also per Etymonline, the word locus is a noun whose plural is loci that has been used since the year 1715 to mean place, spot or locality. This is similar to the words locale and location. These come directly from the Latin locus, meaning a spot of place. This comes from the Old Latin stlocus, which is a word of uncertain origin. This word was used by many Latin writers for the Greek topos, and has been used in a mathematical sense since 1750.

How can the term in lieu of be used in a sentence?

The term in lieu of can be used in many different sentences to describe things that are taking the place of other things. This is considered a polite term, so one does not need to worry about it being too formal or too informal for any different contexts. In this first example, Allison and Maria are coworkers who are discussing the management team’s holiday gift.

Allison: Honestly, when I opened up what I thought was my bonus letter, I was livid.

Maria: Me too. A fruit basket in lieu of a bonus? How about I quit ‘in lieu of’ working here.

Allison: Seriously. I can’t pay my rent with pineapple cut in the shape of a flower. I worked my butt off all year for nothing – I averaged over sixty hours a week! This bonus was going to save me this year.

Maria: Honestly, all it shows is that we aren’t worth anything to them. If they don’t care about me I don’t care about them either.  

Here, Allison and Maria are annoyed that their management team gifted them with a fruit basket in lieu of a bonus check. In this next example, Allison and Maria are at brunch to celebrate getting new jobs.

Allison: Can I please have the smoked salmon bagel?

Waiter: Of course! What kind of bagel would you like?

Allison: On an everything bagel, please.

Waiter: Ah, we just ran out of our last everything bagel – is there another type of bagel I can get you in lieu of that? Our rosemary sea salt bagels just came out of the oven.

Allison: Ooh, that sounds great. Yes, I will do the rosemary sea salt bagel. Thank you so much!

Waiter: Sure!

What are synonyms for the term in lieu of?

There are many different words that one can use in place of the term in lieu of. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are very useful if you are looking to expand your vocabulary or if you want to avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms is provided by Thesaurus.

  • by choice
  • first
  • just as soon
  • sooner
  • alternately
  • rather
  • preferable
  • more readily
  • willingly
  • much sooner
  • more willingly
  • by preference
  • instead
  • alternatively
  • as a matter of choice
  • in preference

The opposite of “instead of” is “together with.” This is also known as an antonym. There are many different antonyms that one can use in place of the term in lieu of. Knowing antonyms for different words and phrases is useful because first, it shows that you know the definition of the word or phrase you are using. Second, antonyms are useful is you tend to simply negate words instead of using their opposites. This list of antonyms for in lieu of is also provided by Thesaurus

  • with
  • including
  • by
  • near
  • accompanying
  • upon
  • among
  • for
  • alongside
  • amidst
  • beside
  • plus
  • along

Overall, the term in lieu of means in place of. This term is often used to describe replacing one thing with another. The phrase in lieu of stems from Latin, and is often used in many different contexts to describe one thing or event that replaces another.