A merely formal office applied for by members of Parliament when they wish to resign from the House of Commons.
A purely nominal office held from the crown: appointment to it avoids application of the rule that members of Parliament wishing to vacate their seats may not resign.
Origin of chiltern-hundreds
- Short for Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds tracts of crown lands in south-central England including the Chiltern Hills
From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition