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feme sole

[sohl] /soʊl/
noun, plural femes sole. Law.
1.
an unmarried woman, whether never married, widowed, or divorced.
2.
a married woman who is independent of her husband with respect to property.
Origin
1520-1530
1520-30; < Anglo-French
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for feme sole

feme sole

noun (law)
1.
a single woman, whether spinster, widow, or divorcee
2.
a woman whose marriage has been annulled or is otherwise independent of her husband, as by owning her own property
Word Origin
C16: from Anglo-French: a woman alone
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Article for feme sole

in Anglo-American common law, a woman in the unmarried state or in the legally established equivalent of that state. The concept derived from feudal Norman custom and was prevalent through periods when marriage abridged women's rights. Feme sole (Norman French meaning "single woman") referred to a woman who had never been married or who was divorced or widowed or to a woman whose legal subordination to her husband had been invalidated by a trust, a prenuptial agreement, or a judicial decision. In some instances by custom a woman could execute contracts independent of her husband as a feme sole trader, but generally legal action was required to establish a married woman's legal separateness from her husband. See also coverture.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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