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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 of mortmain
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. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for mortmain
Historical Examples
  • Like most of Edward's laws the statute of mortmain was based on earlier precedents.

  • It was in his time that the famous Statute of mortmain was passed.

  • mortmain belonged to the old school—Frankpledge steered by the new lights.

  • mortmain's anger had been followed by the reaction of despair.

    Mortmain Arthur Cheny Train
  • Sir Penniston held it with a smile just over mortmain's head and suffered it to escape gently downward.

    Mortmain Arthur Cheny Train
  • He extended his hand, but mortmain had thrust his own into his trousers' pockets.

    Mortmain Arthur Cheny Train
  • Charters were also necessary before lands could be acquired in mortmain.

  • Like a flash it occurred to mortmain that the solicitor had called to see him about the bankruptcy.

    Mortmain Arthur Cheny Train
  • Some steps were taken, however, to free these lands, as well as other measures to hinder the giving of realty in mortmain.

    A History of Spain Charles E. Chapman
  • A cold blast of air followed and mortmain's teeth chattered.

    Mortmain Arthur Cheny Train
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
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
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