13 Essential Literary Terms
mid-14c., "convert (an estate) into 'fee tail' (feudum talliatum)," from en- (1) "make" + taile "legal limitation," especially of inheritance, ruling who succeeds in ownership and preventing it from being sold off, from Anglo-French taile, Old French taillie, past participle of taillier "allot, cut to shape," from Late Latin taliare. Sense of "have consequences" is 1829, from notion of "inseparable connection." Related: Entailed; entailling.
in feudal English law, an interest in land bound up inalienably in the grantee and then forever to his direct descendants. A basic condition of entail was that if the grantee died without direct descendants the land reverted to the grantor. The concept, feudal in origin, supported a landed aristocracy because it served to prevent the disintegration of large estates through divisible inheritance or the lack of heirs. Statutory reforms in England now permit the owner to convey the entailed land by a simple deed and even by will