mortmain

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Anglo-Norman mortmayn, morte meyn, from Old French mortes meins, after Late Latin phrase mortua manus. See Latin mors ("dead") + manus ("hand").

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

mortmain (plural mortmains)

  1. (law) The perpetual, inalienable possession of lands by a corporation or non-personal entity such as a church.
  2. (literary) A strong and inalienable possession.
    • 1770, Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Present Discontents, and Speeches,
      [] ; and some part of that influence [of the government], which would otherwise have been possessed as in a sort of mortmain and unalienable domain, returned again to the great ocean from whence it arose, []

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