Mortmain definition

môrtmān
A legal arrangement in which a property owner such as an ecclesiastical institution is barred from transferring or selling its property.
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A transfer of lands or houses to a corporate body, such as a school, church, or charitable organization, for perpetual ownership.
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Such ownership.
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The permanent holding of lands by an ecclesiastical organization, without the right to dispose of them.
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(law) The perpetual, inalienable possession of lands by a corporation or non-personal entity such as a church.
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(literary) A strong and inalienable possession.
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Other Word Forms

Noun

Singular:
mortmain
Plural:
mortmains

Origin of mortmain

  • Middle English mortemayne from Old French mortemain morte feminine of mort dead mortgage main hand (from Latin manus man-2 in Indo-European roots)

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • From Anglo-Norman mortmayn, morte meyn, from Old French mortes meins, after Late Latin phrase mortua manus. See Latin mors ("dead") + manus ("hand").

    From Wiktionary