abeyance

noun abey·ance \ ə-ˈbā-ən(t)s \
Updated on: 13 Oct 2017

Definition of abeyance

1 :a state of temporary inactivity :suspension used chiefly in the phrase in abeyance
  • … new contracts on all but one existing mine … are in abeyance pending the outcome of a government inquiry to be carried out into Australia's role in the nuclear fuel cycle.
  • —Vimala Sarma
  • a plan that is currently being held in abeyance
2 :a lapse in succession during which there is no person in whom a title is vested
  • an estate in abeyance

abeyant

play \-ənt\ adjective

Examples of abeyance in a Sentence

  1. our weekend plans were held in abeyance until we could get a weather forecast

Recent Examples of abeyance from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abeyance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

When should you use abeyance?

The Latin root of abeyance suggests one in a state of wonder or shock: baer (or baier) means "to have the mouth wide open, gape, pant." The anatomical specificity of the root, however, was not maintained in the Anglo-French words that link our word to it. Abaer (or abair), which means only "to open wide," developed into abeyaunce, which refers to a very particular kind of figurative opening: "absence of a claimant or owner, lapse in succession." The English word abeyance has both technical and general applications: a property or title "in abeyance" is in temporary limbo, waiting to be claimed by a rightful heir or owner, and plans that are "in abeyance" are waiting to be acted on.

Origin and Etymology of abeyance

borrowed from Anglo-French abeyaunce "absence of a claimant or owner, lapse in succession," from abaer, abair "to open wide" (from a-, prefix in transitive verbs—from Latin ad- ad- — + baer, baier "to have the mouth wide open, gape, pant," from Vulgar Latin *batāre, perhaps of imitative origin) + -ance -ance


Financial Definition of ABEYANCE

abeyance

What It Is

In the strictest terms, abeyance means temporary inactivity. In the finance world, the term generally refers to unknown ownership.

How It Works

Let's say John Doe owns an empty lot in City XYZ. He dies without a will or trust in place. John's brother, cousin, uncle and best friend all claim that John told them they could inherit the lot.

While the matter goes through probate, the lot is in abeyance. That is, it is unclear who owns the property. Accordingly, it is unclear who is responsible for the upcoming property tax payment or for the outcome of the lawsuit John was facing from a person who was hurt while trespassing on John's property.

Why It Matters

Courts often deem assets in abeyance when ownership is unclear. People also set up trusts that do not convey assets until the beneficiary fulfills certain obligations (for instance, no money for the grandson until he completes college or reaches age 30).



Medical Dictionary

abeyance

noun abey·ance \ ə-ˈbā-ən(t)s \

medical Definition of abeyance

:temporary inactivity or suspension (as of function or a symptom)

Law Dictionary

abeyance

noun abey·ance \ ə-ˈbā-əns \

legal Definition of abeyance

1 :a lapse in the succession of property during which there is no person in whom title to the property is vested usually used with in
  • the estate was in abeyance
2 :temporary inactivity or suppression :cessation or suspension for a period of time usually used with in or into
  • to hold the entry of summary judgment in abeyance
  • —J. H. Friedenthal et al.

Origin and Etymology of abeyance

Middle French abeance expectation (of a title or claimant), from abaer to expect, from a-, prefix stressing result + baer to gape, aim at



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