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mortmain

[mawrt-meyn] /ˈmɔrtˌmeɪn/
noun, Law.
1.
the condition of lands or tenements held without right of alienation, as by an ecclesiastical corporation; inalienable ownership.
2.
the perpetual holding of land, especially by a corporation or charitable trust.
Origin
1250-1300
1250-1300; Middle English mort(e)mayn(e) < Anglo-French mortemain, translation of Medieval Latin mortua manus dead hand
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for mortmain
  • The issues arising from frankalmoign had been addressed by the statute of mortmain.
British Dictionary definitions for mortmain

mortmain

/ˈmɔːtˌmeɪn/
noun
1.
(law) the state or condition of lands, buildings, etc, held inalienably, as by an ecclesiastical or other corporation
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for mortmain
mortmain
"inalienable ownership," mid-15c., from O.Fr. mortemain "dead hand," from M.L. mortua manus. Probably a metaphorical expression.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for mortmain

in English law, the state of land being held by the "dead hand" (French: mort main) of a corporation. In feudal days a conveyance of land to a monastery or other corporation deprived the lord of many profitable feudal incidents, for the corporation was never under age, never died, and never committed felony or married. Statutes were consequently passed between the 13th and the 16th century prohibiting alienation into mortmain without license from the crown. The modern law was contained in the Mortmain and Charitable Uses acts, 1888 and 1891, and in a number of acts that authorized limited companies and some other corporations to hold land without license in mortmain. An unauthorized conveyance into mortmain made the land liable to forfeiture to the crown

Learn more about mortmain with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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12
15
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