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demesne

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noun de·mesne \di-ˈmān, -ˈmēn\

Definition of demesne

  1. 1 :  legal possession of land as one's own

  2. 2 :  manorial land actually possessed by the lord and not held by tenants

  3. 3 a :  the land attached to a mansion b :  landed property :  estate c :  region 2, territory

  4. 4 :  realm 2, domain



Examples of demesne in a sentence

  1. <the vast and frozen demesne of the northern tundra>

  2. <the view that the issue is not in the demesne of the courts and is something that should be decided by the state legislature>



Did You Know?

Why isn't "demesne" pronounced the way it's spelled? Our word actually began as "demayn" or "demeyn" in the 14th century, when it was borrowed from Anglo-French property law. At that time, the Anglo-French form was "demeine." Later, the Anglo-French spelling changed to "demesne," perhaps by association with another term from Anglo-French property law: mesne, meaning "intermediate." ("Mesne" has entered English as a legal term as well.) According to rules of French pronunciation, the "s" was silent and the vowel was long. English speakers eventually followed suit, adopting the "demesne" spelling. Our word domain (which overlaps with the meaning of "demesne" in some applications) also comes from Anglo-French demeine.

Origin of demesne

Middle English, from Anglo-French demesne, demeine — more at domain


First Known Use: 14th century


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