escheat

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English eschete, from Anglo-Norman escheat, Old French eschet, escheit, escheoit (that which falls to one), from the past participle of escheoir (to fall), from Vulgar Latin *excadō, from Latin ex + cadō (I fall).

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Noun[edit]

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escheat (countable and uncountable, plural escheats)

  1. (law) The return of property of a deceased person to the state (originally to a feudal lord) where there are no legal heirs or claimants.
  2. (law) The property so reverted.
  3. (obsolete) Plunder, booty.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.viii:
      Approching, with bold words and bitter threat, / Bad that same boaster, as he mote, on high / To leaue to him that Lady for excheat, / Or bide him battell without further treat.
  4. That which falls to one; a reversion or return.

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Verb[edit]

escheat (third-person singular simple present escheats, present participle escheating, simple past and past participle escheated)

  1. (transitive) To put (land, property) in escheat; to confiscate.
    • 2016, Peter H. Wilson, The Holy Roman Empire, Penguin 2017, p. 329:
      Failure to perform duties opened the culprit to charges of ‘felony’ (felonia), providing grounds for the king to escheat the fief.
  2. (intransitive) To revert to a state or lord because its previous owner died without an heir.

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