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In this diagram, A, the owner of the back lot, requires an easement (sense 1) to use the driveway passing across the front lot owned by someone else in order to access the public street


From Anglo-Norman aisement, easement, eisement, esament, esement, and Middle French aisement (comfort, convenience, ease, facility, opportunity; a benefit, relief; a right to use land, a thing, etc.; a privy), from aisier (to put at ease; to facilitate) + -ment (-ment, suffix forming nouns, usually the action or state resulting from verbs).



easement (countable and uncountable, plural easements)

  1. (architecture) An element such as a baseboard, handrail, etc., that is curved instead of abruptly changing direction.
    • 1986, Jack P[ayne] Jones, “Designing and Building Stairs”, in Handbook of Construction Contracting, volume 1 (Plans, Specs, Building), Carlsbad, Calif.: Craftsman Book Company, →ISBN, page 240:
      The curved part of the rail where it joins the newel is called an easement. Often, however, the rail joins the newel without an easement.
    • 2013, Floyd Vogt, Carpentry, 6th edition, Clifton Park, N.Y.: Delmar, Cengage Learning, →ISBN, page 932:
      In preparation for laying out the easement used to join the first- and second-flight handrails, tack a piece of plywood about 5 inches wide to the bottom side of the gooseneck fitting and the handrail of the first flight. These pieces are used to rest the connecting easement against when laying out the joint.
  2. (archaic) Easing; relief; assistance; support.
    • 1611, anonymous [Giovanni Botero], “The Fourth Booke. Of Asya.”, in Robert Johnson, transl., Relations, of the Most Famovs Kingdoms and Common-weales throvgh the World. Discoursing of their Scituations, Manners, Customes, Strengthes and Pollicies. Translated into English and Enlarged, with an Addition of the Estates of Venice, Saxony, Geneua, Hungary, and the East-Indies, in any Language never before Imprinted, London: Printed [by William Jaggard] for Iohn Iaggard, dwelling in Fleetstreet, at the Hand and Starre, betweene the two Temple gates, →OCLC, pages 385–386:
      There are alſo many Deſerts, and many mountains diſioyning the prouinces farre aſſunder. Heerin it reſembleth Spain, where for want of Nauigable riuers (except towards the ſeacoaſt) trafficke is little vſed, and mountains and prouinces lie vnmanured for ſcarcity of moiſture. But Nature vnwilling that humaine life ſhould want any eaſement, hath ſo prouided for mutual commerce in theſe ſandy and barren places, that thorough the labour of Camels, the want of Nauigation is richly recompenced throughout Persia, and the bordering contries.
    • 1666, John Bunyan, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners: Or, A Brief and Faithful Relation of the Exceeding Mercy of God in Christ, to His Poor Servant John Bvnyan, London: Printed by George Larkin, OCLC 12787585; 6th corr. edition, London: Printed for Nath. Ponder, at the Pea-cock in the Poultry, over against the Stocks-Market, 1688, OCLC 643954458, pages 92–93:
      But now, thought I, if this ſin is not unto death, then it is pardonable; therefore from this I have encouragement to come to God by Chriſt for mercy; to conſider the promiſe of forgiveneſs, as that which ſtands with open arms to receive me, as well as others. This therefore was a great eaſement to my mind; to wit, that my ſin was pardonable, that it was not the ſin unto death, []
    • 1796, Edmund Burke, A Letter from the Right Honourable Edmund Burke to a Noble Lord, upon the Attacks Made upon Him and His Pension, in the House of Lords, by the Duke of Bedford and the Earl of Lauderdale, Early in the Present Sessions of Parliament, London: Printed for J. Owen, No. 168, Piccadilly, and F[rancis] and C[harles] Rivington, No. 62, St. Paul's Church-yard, →OCLC, pages 9–10:
      Money is made for the comfort and convenience of animal life. [] With ſubmiſſion to his Grace, I have not had more than ſufficient. As to any noble uſe, I truſt I know how to employ, as well as he, a much greater fortune than he poſſeſſes. In a more confined application, I certainly ſtand in need of every kind of relief and eaſement much more than he does.
  3. (archaic, euphemistic) The act of relieving oneself: defecating or urinating.
    • 2011, Lucy Worsley, “The Whole World is a Toilet”, in If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home, London: Faber and Faber, →ISBN, page 153:
      [T]he lowest servants at Hampton Court used the great communal toilet capable of seating fourteen people at once named the ‘Common Jakes’ or the ‘Great House of Easement’. This giant facility discharged into a tank which was washed clean by the waters of the moat. Even so, the tank emitted a dreadful smell and frequently had to be scrubbed clean.
    • 2013, Shirley McKay, “A Merry Month”, in Friend & Foe (A Hew Cullen Mystery), Edinburgh: Polygon, →ISBN:
      He lit candles in the passage next to Patrick's closet, where his lordship wrote his letters, did his easement, took his bath, and knelt on winter nights to say his blackest prayers.
  4. (model railroading) Transition spiral curve track between a straight or tangent track and a circular curved track of a certain radius or selected radius.
  5. Gratification. (Can we add an example for this sense?)

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