noun chat·tel \ˈcha-təl\

Definition of chattel

  1. 1 :  an item of tangible movable or immovable property except real estate and things (as buildings) connected with real property

  2. 2 :  slave, bondman slaveholders who were determined to hold on to their human chattel

Examples of chattel in a sentence

  1. at one time, the children of black slaves were also considered chattel

  2. packed up all her chattels and moved to a new state

Recent Examples of chattel from the web

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What is the Difference Between chattel and slave?

The word chattel is encountered in two main senses. The earlier of the two is primarily technical and refers to property, specifically property that is distinct from real estate holdings. The second meaning of chattel can excite considerable emotion, as it refers to humans as property, i.e., slaves. Chattel, slave and the less common bondman and thrall are all synonyms for a person held in servitude by another. Chattel and cattle both come to English from the same source: each is descended from the Medieval Latin word capitale, which itself traces to the Latin caput meaning “head.”

Origin and Etymology of chattel

Middle English chatel property, from Anglo-French — more at cattle

First Known Use: 14th century

CHATTEL Defined for English Language Learners


noun chat·tel \ˈcha-təl\

Definition of chattel for English Language Learners

  • : something (such as a slave, piece of furniture, tool, etc.) that a person owns other than land or buildings

Law Dictionary


noun chat·tel \ˈchat-əl\

Legal Definition of chattel

  1. :  an item of tangible or intangible personal property; especially :  chattel personal in this entry Editor's note: In some jurisdictions the term chattel is restricted to items of tangible and movable personal property. Other jurisdictions also classify intangible assets and property items as chattels. chattel personal, plural chattels personal :  an item of tangible movable personal property (as livestock or an automobile) that is not permanently connected with real estate chattel real, plural chattels real :  an interest (as a leasehold or profit a prendre) in an item of immovable property (as land or a building) that is less than a freehold estate — compare fixture Editor's note: Interests that are considered chattels real have been treated by the common law as personal property despite being interests in real property.

Origin and Etymology of chattel

Old French chatel goods, property, from Medieval Latin capitale, from neuter of capitalis chief, principal — see capital

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a brief usually trivial fact

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