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From Middle English demayne, from Anglo-Norman demeyne, demene et al., Old French demeine, demaine, demeigne, domaine (power) (whence French domaine (domain)), a noun use of an adjective, from Latin dominicus (belonging to a lord or master), from dominus (master, proprietor, owner). See dame. Doublet of domain.


  • IPA(key): /dɪˈmeɪn/, /dɪˈmiːn/
  • Hyphenation: de‧mesne
  • Rhymes: -eɪn, -iːn
  • (file)


demesne (plural demesnes)

  1. A lord's chief manor place, with that part of the lands belonging thereto which has not been granted out in tenancy; a house, and the land adjoining, kept for the proprietor's own use.
    • 1485, Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur Book XVI, Chapter vii leaf 337r:
      And whanne he sawe that he lete charce her oute of this land and bytoke hit me and alle this land in my demenys
      And when he saw that, he let chase her out of this land, and betook it me, and all this land in my demesnes.
    • 1952, Norman Lewis, Golden Earth:
      As no one had ever bothered them you could get within a few yards and watch their bright, busy foraging among the leaves. Duffy, the Consul, said that they were there every day as he had resisted the servants' implorings to shoot them; he knew that as soon as the first shot had been fired, this decorative adjunct to his demesne would vanish for ever.
    • 1960, P[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, chapter III, in Jeeves in the Offing, London: Herbert Jenkins, →OCLC:
      I could spot no friendly native to tell me where I might find Bobbie. I proceeded, therefore, to roam hither and thither about the grounds and messuages in the hope of locating her, wishing that I had a couple of bloodhounds to aid me in my task, for the Travers demesne is a spacious one and there was a considerable amount of sunshine above, though none, I need scarcely mention, in my heart.
    • 1962, Charles Kinbote [pseudonym; Vladimir Nabokov], “Commentary”, in Pale Fire, New York, N.Y.: Berkley Books, published November 1985, →ISBN, page 195:
      Lines 993–995: [] One minute before his death, as we were crossing from his demesne to mine and had begun working up between the junipers and ornamental shrubs, a Red Admirable (see note to line 270) came dizzily whirling around us like a colored flame.
    • 2023, Christopher Morash, Dublin: A Writer's City, Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 237:
      This area to the west of the city had been a priory demesne in the sixteenth century, but in the frantic landgrab that followed the Restoration of the 1660s, []
  2. A region or area; a domain.

Derived terms[edit]




Old French[edit]


demesne m (oblique and nominative feminine singular demesne)

  1. Alternative form of demaine


demesne oblique singularm (oblique plural demesnes, nominative singular demesnes, nominative plural demesne)

  1. Alternative form of demaine