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[pat-nt or for 10, 12–15, peyt-; especially British peyt-nt] /ˈpæt nt or for 10, 12–15, ˈpeɪt-; especially British ˈpeɪt nt/
the exclusive right granted by a government to an inventor to manufacture, use, or sell an invention for a certain number of years.
an invention or process protected by this right.
an official document conferring such a right; letters patent.
the instrument by which the government of the United States conveys the legal fee-simple title to public land.
adjective, , patent
[peyt-nt] /ˈpeɪt nt/ (Show IPA),
(for 10, 12–15)
protected by a patent; patented:
a patent cooling device.
pertaining to, concerned with, or dealing with patents, especially on inventions:
a patent attorney; patent law.
conferred by a patent, as a right or privilege.
holding a patent, as a person.
readily open to notice or observation; evident; obvious:
a patent breach of good manners.
made of patent leather:
patent shoes.
lying open; not enclosed or shut in:
a patent field.
Chiefly Botany. expanded or spreading.
open, as a doorway or a passage.
Phonetics. open, in various degrees, to the passage of the breath stream.
verb (used with object)
to take out a patent on; obtain the exclusive rights to (an invention, process, etc.) by a patent.
to originate and establish as one's own.
Metallurgy. to heat and quench (wire) so as to prepare for cold-drawing.
to grant (public land) by a patent.
Origin of patent
1250-1300; (adj.) Middle English < Latin patent- (stem of patēns) open, orig. present participle of patēre to stand wide open; (noun) Middle English, short for letters patent, translation of Medieval Latin litterae patentēs open letters
Related forms
patentable, adjective
patentability, noun
patentably, adverb
patently, adverb
nonpatentability, noun
nonpatentable, adjective
nonpatented, adjective
nonpatently, adverb
prepatent, noun, verb (used with object)
unpatent, adjective
unpatentability, noun
unpatentable, adjective
unpatented, adjective
10. clear, palpable, conspicuous, unconcealed.
10. dim, obscure, hidden.
Synonym Study
10. See apparent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for patent
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Historical Examples
British Dictionary definitions for patent


/ˈpætənt; ˈpeɪtənt/
  1. a government grant to an inventor assuring him the sole right to make, use, and sell his invention for a limited period
  2. a document conveying such a grant
an invention, privilege, etc, protected by a patent
  1. an official document granting a right
  2. any right granted by such a document
(in the US)
  1. a grant by the government of title to public lands
  2. the instrument by which such title is granted
  3. the land so granted
a sign that one possesses a certain quality
open or available for inspection (esp in the phrases letters patent, patent writ)
(ˈpeɪtənt). obvious: their scorn was patent to everyone
concerning protection, appointment, etc, of or by a patent or patents
(esp of a bodily passage or duct) being open or unobstructed
(biology) spreading out widely: patent branches
(of plate glass) ground and polished on both sides
verb (transitive)
to obtain a patent for
(in the US) to grant (public land or mineral rights) by a patent
(metallurgy) to heat (a metal) above a transformation temperature and cool it at a rate that allows cold working
Derived Forms
patentable, adjective
patentability, noun
Usage note
The pronunciation ˈpætənt is heard in letters patent and Patent Office and is the usual US pronunciation for all senses. In Britain ˈpætənt is sometimes heard for senses 1, 2 and 3, but ˈpeɪtənt is commoner and is regularly used in collocations like patent leather
Word Origin
C14: via Old French from Latin patēre to lie open; n use, short for letters patent, from Medieval Latin litterae patentes letters lying open (to public inspection)
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 patent

late 14c., "open letter or document from some authority," shortened form of Anglo-French lettre patent (also in Medieval Latin (litteræ) patentes), literally "open letter" (late 13c.), from Old French patente (see patent (adj.).

The Letters Patent were ... written upon open sheets of parchment, with the Great Seal pendent at the bottom ... [while] the 'Litteræ Clausæ,' or Letters Close, ... being of a more private nature, and addressed to one or two individuals only, were closed or folded up and sealed on the outside. [S.R. Scargill-Bird, "A Guide to the Principal Classes of Documents at the Public Record Office," 1891]
Meaning "a license covering an invention" is from 1580s.


"to obtain right to land," 1670s, from patent (n.). The meaning "copyright an invention" is first recorded 1822, from earlier meaning "obtain exclusive right or monopoly" (1789), a privilege granted by the Crown via letters patent. Related: Patented; patenting.


late 14c., in letters patent, literally "open letter," from Old French patente, from Latin patentum (nominative patens) "open, lying open," present participle of patere "lie open, be open," from PIE *pete- "to spread" (see pace (n.)). Sense of "open to view, plain, clear" is first recorded c.1500. Related: Patently.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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patent in Medicine

patent pat·ent (pāt'nt)

  1. A grant made by a government that confers upon the creator of an invention the sole right to make, use, and sell that invention for a set period of time.

  2. An invention protected by such a grant.

  1. Of, relating to, or being a nonprescription drug or other medical preparation that is often protected by a trademark.

  2. (pāt'nt) Not blocked; open.

  3. (pāt'nt ) Spreading open; expanded.

v. pat·ent·ed, pat·ent·ing, pat·ents
  1. To obtain a patent on or for something, such as an invention.

  2. To invent, originate, or be the proprietor of an idea.

  3. To grant a patent to somone or for something.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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