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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for deodand

Historical Examples of deodand

  • 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.

  • 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

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 for deodand

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

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