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noun \ˈlēn, ˈlē-ən\

Simple Definition of lien

  • law : a legal claim that someone or something has on the property of another person until a debt has been paid back

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of lien

  1. 1 :  a charge upon real or personal property for the satisfaction of some debt or duty ordinarily arising by operation of law

  2. 2 :  the security interest created by a mortgage

Origin and Etymology of lien

Anglo-French lien, loyen bond, restraint, from Latin ligamen, from ligare to bind — more at ligature

First Known Use: 1531

Medical Dictionary


noun li·en \ˈlī-ən, ˈlī-ˌen\

Medical Definition of lien

  1. :  spleen


\-əl\play adjective

Law Dictionary


noun \ˈlēn\

Legal Definition of lien

  1. 1 :  a charge or encumbrance upon property for the satisfaction of a debt or other duty that is created by agreement of the parties or especially by operation of law; specifically :  a security interest created especially by a mortgage assessment lien :  a lien that is on property benefiting from an improvement made by a municipality and that secures payment of the taxes assessed to pay for the improvement attachment lien :  a lien acquired on property by a creditor upon levy of an attachment carrier's lien :  a lien against freight conferring on the carrier the right to retain the property until the amount due is paid charging lien :  a lien attaching to a judgment or recovery awarded to a plaintiff and securing payment of the plaintiff's attorney's fees and expenses —called also special lien choate lien :  a lien that requires no further action to be made enforceable and that identifies the lienor, the property subject to the lien, and the amount of the lien common–law lien :  a lien under common law giving a creditor (as a bailee) in possession of property the right to retain possession until payment of the amount due equitable lien :  a lien against property that does not require possession of the property and that is available in equity to prevent unjust enrichment factor's lien :  a lien against property held on consignment by a factor conferring the right to retain possession of the property until payment of the amount due Editor's note: A factor's lien is simply a security interest and, unlike a common-law lien, is enforceable even after the factor is no longer in possession of the property. first lien :  a lien taking precedence over all other claims, charges, or encumbrances of the same general category but not necessarily over those (as taxes) imposed by government sanction floating lien :  a lien created in a security agreement against property owned by the debtor at the time of the agreement's creation as well as property acquired after the agreement's creation general lien 1 :  a lien that is for the satisfaction of a balance due from an owner of property and that is not confined to the amount due in respect to the property itself 2 :  retaining lien in this entry inchoate lien :  a lien for which some procedure remains unfinished or some term remains undetermined involuntary lien :  a lien that arises other than by the debtor's consent (as by operation of law) judgment lien :  a lien acquired against the property of a debtor by a creditor upon obtaining a favorable judgment judicial lien :  a lien obtained by a legal or equitable process (as judgment, levy, attachment, or execution) junior lien :  a lien that is lower in priority relative to other liens landlord's lien :  a lien against the goods and valuables of a tenant to secure payment of rent or sometimes repayment of money otherwise owed to a landlord maritime lien :  a lien arising under maritime law against a ship or its cargo (as for services or supplies tendered or for damages caused by a collision) which may be enforced by a court-ordered seizure of the property in order to satisfy the obligation materialman's lien \mə-ˈtir-ē-əl-mənz-\ :  a lien on property for materials supplied mechanic's lien :  a lien against a building and its site to assure priority of payment for labor or services (as construction and sometimes design) or material retaining lien :  a lien that attaches to the papers or property of a client which have come into his or her attorney's possession in the course of employment and that secures payment of the attorney's fees —called also general lien senior lien :  a lien that is higher in priority relative to other liens special lien 1 :  an equitable lien enforceable to compel performance of an obligation (as under a divorce settlement) 2 :  charging lien in this entry specific lien :  a lien upon specific property as security for the payment of a debt or the satisfaction of some other obligation arising out of a transaction or agreement involving that property — compare general lien in this entry statutory lien :  a lien imposed by statute tax lien :  a statutory lien on property for taxes due giving the taxing authority a security interest in the property — compare tax sale at sale vendor's lien :  a lien on especially real property securing payment in full of the purchase price by the buyer voluntary lien :  a lien created (as by contract) with the consent of the debtor

Origin and Etymology of lien

Anglo-French, bond, obligation, literally, tie, band, from Old French, from Latin ligamen, from ligare to bind

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