de·​mesne | \di-ˈmān, -ˈmēn \

Definition of demesne 

1 : legal possession of land as one's own

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

3a : the land attached to a mansion

b : landed property : estate

c : region sense 2, territory

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Examples of demesne in a Sentence

the vast and frozen demesne of the northern tundra the view that the issue is not in the demesne of the courts and is something that should be decided by the state legislature

Recent Examples on the Web

Still, enough of the original grounds remain as part of Biltmore’s grandeur as to suggest, even today, a demesne with a castle at its center. Stuart Ferguson, WSJ, "A Carolina Xanadu," 29 Sep. 2017

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

First Known Use of demesne

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for demesne

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about demesne

Listen to Our Podcast about demesne

Dictionary Entries near demesne








Statistics for demesne

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for demesne

The first known use of demesne was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on demesne

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with demesne

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for demesne Encyclopedia article about demesne

Comments on demesne

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


to enclose within walls

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Dictionary Devil

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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!