heir apparent

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From Middle English heier apparaunt, a calque translation of Middle French héritier apparent, hence the unusual order of adjective following noun.


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heir apparent (plural heirs apparent or heir apparents)

  1. (usually monarchy) Someone who will definitely inherit if surviving the one whose property is to be inherited.
    • 1814 July, [Jane Austen], chapter XVII, in Mansfield Park: [], volume III, London: [] T[homas] Egerton, [], OCLC 39810224, page 345:
      [] for Mary, though perfectly resolved against ever attaching herself to a younger brother again, was long in finding among the dashing representatives, or idle heir apparents, who were at the command of her beauty, and her 20,000l. any one who could satisfy the better taste she had acquired at Mansfield, whose character and manners could authorise a hope of the domestic happiness she had there learnt to estimate, or put Edmund Bertram sufficiently out of her head.
    • 2021 July 14, A. A. Dowd, “Space Jam: A New Legacy is one big, witless commercial for Warner Bros. properties”, in The A.V. Club[1]:
      LeBron James, heir apparent to MJ’s throne, seems on paper like a dream trade—he stole plenty of laughs in Trainwreck a few summers ago.