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[dee-uh-dand] /ˈdi əˌdænd/
noun, English Law.
(before 1846) an animal or article that, having been the immediate cause of the death of a human being, was forfeited to the crown to be applied to pious uses.
Origin of deodand
1520-30; < Medieval Latin deōdandum (a thing) to be given to God < Latin deō to God (dative singular of deus) + dandum to be given (neuter gerund of dare to give) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for deodand
Historical Examples
  • The jury imposed a deodand of £5 on the coach and £10 on the horses.

  • The bound volume was forfeited as a deodand, but not claimed.

    The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • In mediæval and early modern Europe, offending objects were "deodand," that is, devoted to God.


    John Dewey and James Hayden Tufts
  • The old law of deodand was an expression of this feeling of resentment against inanimate objects even.

    Concerning Justice Lucilius A. Emery
  • The verdict returned was "Accidental Death," with a deodand of five pounds upon the bull.

    Trevlyn Hold Mrs. Henry Wood
  • Probably because of the evident recklessness displayed by the coachman, a deodand of £1,400 was laid on the coach.

British Dictionary definitions for deodand


(English law) (formerly) a thing that had caused a person's death and was forfeited to the crown for a charitable purpose: abolished 1862
Word Origin
C16: from Anglo-French deodande, from Medieval Latin deōdandum, from Latin Deō dandum (something) to be given to God, from deus god + dare to give
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for deodand

1520s, from Anglo-French deodande (late 13c.), from Medieval Latin deodandum, from Deo dandum "a thing to be given to God," from dative of deus "god" (see Zeus) + neuter gerundive of dare "to give" (see date (n.1)). In English law, "a personal chattel which, having been the immediate cause of the death of a person, was forfeited to the Crown to be applied to pious uses." Abolished 1846.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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