From earlier letters patents, from Middle English lettres patentes, from the plural of Anglo-Norman lettre patente, from Latin littera patens (literally “open letter”); so called because written on open sheets of parchment.
- (law) A type of legal document in the form of an open letter issued by an authority granting a monopoly, right, status, or title to a person or organization.
- Antonym: letters close
The term is typically used in the plural form, even for a single document.
- letter patent (rare)
- plural of