letters patent

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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.


letters patent pl (plural only)

  1. (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

Usage notes[edit]

The term is typically used in the plural form, even for a single document.

Alternative forms[edit]



letters patent

  1. plural of letter patent

Further reading[edit]