Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective pat·ent \1–3 are ˈpa-tənt, chiefly British ˈpā-; 4 ˈpā-; 5 ˈpā-, ˈpa-; 6–7 ˈpa-, ˈpā-, British usually ˈpā-\

Simple Definition of patent

  • : of, relating to, or concerned with patents

  • : obvious or clear

Full Definition of patent

  1. 1 a :  open to public inspection —used chiefly in the phrase letters patent b (1) :  secured by letters patent or by a patent to the exclusive control and possession of a particular individual or party (2) :  protected by a patent :  made under a patent <patent locks> c :  protected by a trademark or a brand name so as to establish proprietary rights analogous to those conveyed by letters patent or a patent :  proprietary <patent drugs>

  2. 2 :  of, relating to, or concerned with the granting of patents especially for inventions <a patent lawyer>

  3. 3 :  making exclusive or proprietary claims or pretensions

  4. 4 :  affording free passage :  unobstructed <a patent opening>

  5. 5 :  patulous, spreading <a patent calyx>

  6. 6 archaic :  accessible, exposed

  7. 7 :  readily visible or intelligible :  obvious

pat·ent·ly adverb

Examples of patent

  1. The company settled a patent dispute last year.

  2. the licensing of patent rights

  3. They were sued for patent infringement.

  4. His explanation turned out to be a patent lie.

  5. She acted with patent disregard for the rules.

Origin of patent

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin patent-, patens, from present participle of patēre to be open — more at fathom

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of patent

evident, manifest, patent, distinct, obvious, apparent, plain, clear mean readily perceived or apprehended. evident implies presence of visible signs that lead one to a definite conclusion <an evident fondness for sweets>. manifest implies an external display so evident that little or no inference is required <manifest hostility>. patent applies to a cause, effect, or significant feature that is clear and unmistakable once attention has been directed to it <patent defects>. distinct implies such sharpness of outline or definition that no unusual effort to see or hear or comprehend is required <a distinct refusal>. obvious implies such ease in discovering that it often suggests conspicuousness or little need for perspicacity in the observer <the obvious solution>. apparent is very close to evident except that it may imply more conscious exercise of inference <for no apparent reason>. plain suggests lack of intricacy, complexity, or elaboration <her feelings about him are plain>. clear implies an absence of anything that confuses the mind or obscures the pattern <a clear explanation>.



noun pat·ent \ˈpa-tənt, British also ˈpā-\

Simple Definition of patent

  • : an official document that gives a person or company the right to be the only one that makes or sells a product for a certain period of time

Full Definition of patent

  1. 1 :  an official document conferring a right or privilege :  letters patent

  2. 2 a :  a writing securing for a term of years the exclusive right to make, use, or sell an invention b :  the monopoly or right so granted c :  a patented invention

  3. 3 :  privilege, license

  4. 4 :  an instrument making a conveyance of public lands; also :  the land so conveyed

  5. 5 :  patent leather

Examples of patent

  1. The product is protected by patent.

14th Century

First Known Use of patent

14th century



verb pat·ent \same as 2\

Simple Definition of patent

  • : to get a patent for (something)

Full Definition of patent

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to obtain or grant a patent right to

  3. 2 :  to grant a privilege, right, or license to by patent

  4. 3 :  to obtain or secure by patent; especially :  to secure by letters patent exclusive right to make, use, or sell

pat·ent·abil·i·ty play \ˌpa-tən-tə-ˈbi-lə-tē, British also ˌpā-\ noun
pat·ent·able play \ˈpa-tən-tə-bəl, British also ˈpā-\ adjective

Examples of patent

  1. The product was patented by its inventor.


First Known Use of patent


Medical Dictionary


play play
adjective pa·tent \ˈpat-ənt, British usually ˈpāt-\

Medical Definition of patent

  1. 1:  protected by a trademark or a trade name so as to establish proprietary rights analogous to those conveyed by a patent :  proprietary <patent drugs>

  2. 2\ˈpāt-\:  affording free passage :  being open and unobstructed <the nose patent with no pathological discharge—Journal of the American Medical Association>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up patent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 9, 2016

marked by high spirits and laughter

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

kittly-benders pince-nez spindrift duvet
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.