9 Formal Synonyms for “Grandfathered In”

Do you want to know the best formal ways to refer to something affected by the grandfather clause?

Perhaps you’re tired of using “grandfathered in.” Or maybe you think it’s outdated or inappropriate now.

Well, you’re in luck!

This article will show you what to say instead of “grandfathered in.”

Is It Ok to Say “Grandfathered In”?

It is ok to say “grandfathered in.”

It is not offensive and refers to something that has been exempted from new rule changes while everything else must abide by them (thus applying the grandfather clause).

Also, it’s considered to be a formal phrase. After all, it’s a legal term that refers to new laws being passed but allowing certain things to be exempted from the changes.

Feel free to review this email sample to learn more about it:

Dear Miss Jeffries,

Luckily, we have been grandfathered in, so we don’t have to worry about these changes.

Therefore, you can keep working as you already were.

Best wishes,
Sam Kent


  • It’s a professional way to show that something is exempt from new rules.
  • It’s a legal term, making it effective in most formal written cases.


  • It’s a bit of an outdated phrase.
  • Not everyone knows what it means, so it often has to be explained.

There’s nothing wrong with using “grandfathered in” in your writing. But that doesn’t mean you have to stick to using that as your only option!

Keep reading to learn another way to say “grandfathered in.” We’ve gathered some of the best synonyms we can think of to help you explore alternatives!

What to Say Instead of “Grandfathered In”

  • Exempted
  • Legacy status
  • Pre-existing
  • Inherited
  • Established
  • Pre-approved
  • Prevailing
  • Original status
  • Time-honored

1. Exempted

We want to start by using “exempted.” This is a great legal term for “grandfathered in” that suggests something has received an exception to a new rule.

For instance, you can use it when a new rule is in play that other companies must abide by.

However, if your company was given an exemption, it means you’re legally allowed to ignore the rule and do things as you used to.

Generally, this will be written into your contract. So, it’s a professional term that allows you to see whether or not a new rule will apply to you.

Check out the following examples if you’d like to learn more about how it works:

It’s clear that you will be exempted from the changes. However, you still need to pay attention to what comes next.

They have been exempted, thus making this negligible. They are entitled to do whatever they please within reason.

2. Legacy Status

When something receives “legacy status,” it means it is grandfathered in.

The grandfather clause applies to anything deemed a “legacy.” So, it’s a good choice to use this as a formal synonym when you want to mix things up.

For instance, you can use this to describe a business in a plan.

You might be writing about specific rules or regulations, and this is a great way to show that a business does not have to follow current rules as they’re written.

For the most part, this phrase is unique. Therefore, it could be a good option for you if you’re trying to spice things up.

You can also review these examples to learn a bit more about it:

This company has received a legacy status. Therefore, it does not have to worry about any of the upcoming changes.

We’ve paid so that we receive legacy status. It’s why we don’t have to change our rules for another few years.

3. Pre-Existing

It’s worth using “pre-existing” as a formal way to say “grandfathered in.” It’s a modern way to use the phrase, suggesting that something has been around for a while and deserves special treatment.

After all, the grandfather clause usually applies to things that have been around for longer than the rules in question.

Therefore, this is a great option if you’re looking for something direct and to the point.

You can use it when emailing a business partner. If you’re trying to explain the grandfather clause to them, this is a good place to start.

You can also check out the following sample email to learn a bit more:

Dear Ms. Fitzgerald,

Since we have been pre-existing for so long, they’re going to give us a pass.

This is to be upheld for the foreseeable future, so please ensure you keep on top of it.

All the best,
Joanna Lumley

4. Inherited

It’s also smart to use “inherited” to mix things up.

To help mix up the contextual choice, we recommend using this in a resume.

It’s a great way to show you understand rules and changes because you’ve been a part of a grandfathered company before.

For the most part, this is a unique way to sell yourself.

You can refer to these resume samples to learn a bit more:

I worked for an inherited company for a while. So, I learned a lot about the rules and changes made in this field.

My former company was inherited to these rules. Therefore, I know how to work them and what’s expected from us.

5. Established

It’s also worth using “established” to show that something fits the grandfather clause.

When something is “grandfathered in,” it often implies it’s been around for a long time.

Therefore, it is “established” and deserves the extra benefits that come from being a grandfathered company or business model.

For the most part, this phrase is professional and clear. So, it makes it obvious what you’re talking about when including something like this in your writing.

We recommend using this when writing legal essays. It helps you to explain why certain rules seem to be ignored by specific companies.

Check out these essay samples to learn a bit more about it:

Since this company has been established for a while, it’s exempt from the rules. Therefore, it cannot be prosecuted.

It’s established, helping it avoid any new cost changes. It’s a great benefit for the system.

6. Pre-Approved

You might also refer to something as “pre-approved” when it has been “grandfathered in.”

Therefore, it implies that something has requested special benefits or exceptions to rules.

Of course, “pre-approved” usually applies to things already confirmed to ensure they will be part of the grandfather clause.

For instance, let’s say your company is hosting a business retreat for newcomers. However, one of your coworkers (who’s been there working for a while) requested to join the retreat before it was announced.

Well, they might have been pre-approved to attend, but they might be the only exception to the rule. Every other attendee will be a new employee.

In this instance, it’s good to use “pre-approved.” It’s a professional and direct way to show that someone has already been given permission to ignore a rule.

Here are some helpful examples to show you more about it:

He was pre-approved for the trip. That’s how he went, even when he didn’t fit the criteria.

You have to be pre-approved if you’re going to bypass these laws. Otherwise, there isn’t much I can do to help you.

7. Prevailing

We also recommend writing “prevailing” to mix things up.

This time, we encourage you to use it in a professional email.

It can work well when discussing rules with a client. It suggests that you’ve already looked into something and found that it skips certain rules due to the grandfather clause.

It’s also worth you reviewing this example to learn more:

Dear Ms. Addison,

Since this is a prevailing company, they bypass these laws.

Therefore, it would be cheaper for us to work with them.

Duncan Scottsdale

8. Original Status

Try using “original status” instead of “grandfathered in.”

Generally, this is a good way to suggest that something has been around for a while.

If it’s an “original,” it’s likely that new rules don’t always apply to it.

Therefore, you can include this in a professional email. It gives you an opportunity to talk about new rules and how they might be skipped by certain long-standing ideals.

Feel free to review this sample email to learn more:

Dear Miss Ryan,

Since this is an original status, it’s not going to be affected.

However, I still encourage you to pursue these changes with the board.

Kind regards,
Bert Rey

9. Time-Honored

Finally, you can write “time-honored” instead of “grandfathered in.”

Generally, this is a classic way to show that something has been around for a long time. Due to its longevity, it has been given extra credit or exceptions to rules that others must follow.

Therefore, you can use this when talking about a building. You might use it in a legal document to discuss what does and doesn’t apply to the building.

For instance, if someone tries to knock it down in favor of a new development, a phrase like this could save it.

Here are some examples to help you here:

This is a time-honored establishment, so it cannot be touched by these changes. You will have to go elsewhere.

It’s a time-honored building. I’m afraid you’ll have to find another development that will work for you.