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letters patent

plural noun Law.
  1. a written or printed instrument issued by a sovereign power, conferring upon a patentee some right, as the exclusive right to land or the exclusive right to make, use, and sell an invention for a limited time.
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Origin of letters patent

Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for letters patent

Historical Examples

  • This explains his motive for the arrangement he made in the letters-patent.

    The Memoirs of Louis XIV., His Court and The Regency, Complete

    Duc de Saint-Simon

  • He presented them with letters-patent, and invested them with the royal authority.

  • There was nothing to do but pawn his precious first machine and the letters-patent.

  • "These are the letters-patent in virtue of which you are to obey me," he said.

    The Chouans

    Honore de Balzac

  • The secretary of State entered and showed the letters-patent.

    Catherine de' Medici

    Honore de Balzac


British Dictionary definitions for letters patent

letters patent

pl n
  1. See patent (def. 6)
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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