a family possession handed down from generation to generation.
Law. property neither personal nor real that descends to the heir of an estate as part of the real property.
being an old variety that is being cultivated again: heirloom vegetables and fruits.

1375–1425; late Middle English heirlome. See heir, loom1

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
heirloom (ˈɛəˌluːm)
1.  an object that has been in a family for generations
2.  property law a chattel inherited by special custom or in accordance with the terms of a will
[C15: from heir + lome tool; see loom1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1472, ayre lome, from heir (q.v.) + loom in its original but now otherwise obsolete sense of "implement, tool." Technically, some piece of property that by will or custom passes down with the real estate.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


an item of personal property that by immemorial usage is regarded as annexed by inheritance to a family estate. The owner of such an heirloom may dispose of it during his lifetime, but he cannot bequeath it by will away from the estate. If he dies intestate (without a will), the object goes to his heir at law; otherwise it goes to whoever takes the estate under his will. Such heirlooms are now almost unknown, but the word has acquired a secondary and popular meaning of items of special, endearing value, such as furniture or pictures, handed down from one generation to the next.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Purchase antique rings or use heirloom rings if possible.
Healthy-looking people were sampling local hams, heirloom tomatoes and raw-milk
Heirloom tomatoes are one of our favorite summer treats.
Fruitcake is the only food durable enough to become a family heirloom.
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