mortmain

[mawrt-meyn]
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noun Law.

the condition of lands or tenements held without right of alienation, as by an ecclesiastical corporation; inalienable ownership.
the perpetual holding of land, especially by a corporation or charitable trust.

Origin of mortmain

1250–1300; Middle English mort(e)mayn(e) < Anglo-French mortemain, translation of Medieval Latin mortua manus dead hand
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Historical Examples of mortmain


British Dictionary definitions for mortmain

mortmain

noun

law the state or condition of lands, buildings, etc, held inalienably, as by an ecclesiastical or other corporation

Word Origin for mortmain

C15: from Old French mortemain, from Medieval Latin mortua manus dead hand, inalienable ownership
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 mortmain
n.

"inalienable ownership," mid-15c., from Anglo-French morte mayn, Old French mortemain, literally "dead hand," from Medieval Latin mortua manus; see mortal (adj.) + manual (adj.). Probably a metaphorical expression.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper