in·​tes·​tate | \ in-ˈte-ˌstāt How to pronounce intestate (audio) , -stət \

Definition of intestate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having made no valid will died intestate
2 : not disposed of by will an intestate estate



Definition of intestate (Entry 2 of 2)

: one who dies intestate

Did you know?


Intestate was borrowed into English in the 14th century from Latin intestatus, which was itself formed by combining the prefix in- ("not") and the adjective testatus, meaning "having left a valid will." Testatus, in turn, derives from the past participle of the verb testari, meaning "to make a will." Approximately a century later, English speakers returned to testatus to coin the word testate, which also means "having left a valid will." Other descendants of testari in English include detest, protest, and testament, as well as testator ("a person who dies leaving a will or testament in force"). The antonym of testator is the noun intestate, meaning "one who dies without a will."

Examples of intestate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective However, if a person dies and a will is not found within six months, the intestate succession laws decide which family members will inherit the estate. Branded Content Contributor, Orange County Register, 19 Nov. 2019 The laws of intestate succession typically put any children first in line, followed by parents. Liz Weston,, 1 Apr. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Officials decided the fastest and safest way to reopen the intestate was to destroy the badly damaged overpass and replace it later. Jeff Martin, ajc, 17 July 2021 Escheat was originally an English common law and was the idea that the real property of a decedent without a legal beneficiary under intestate laws should not be allowed to remain unclaimed. Charles Read, Forbes, 16 Apr. 2021 If it is filed after that time, then the applicant must have a good explanation for the delay and has the additional post-stirrer obligation to notify all of the decedent’s intestate heirs. Dallas News, 3 Jan. 2021 As the crowd from beneath the intestate cleared out, a young woman arrived at the scene, sobbing and screaming. Marie Simoneaux,, 13 May 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of intestate


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1658, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for intestate


Middle English, from Latin intestatus, from in- + testatus testate

Learn More About intestate

Time Traveler for intestate

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About intestate

Dictionary Entries Near intestate




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for intestate

Cite this Entry

“Intestate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for intestate



English Language Learners Definition of intestate

: not having made a will


in·​tes·​tate | \ in-ˈtes-ˌtāt How to pronounce intestate (audio) \

Legal Definition of intestate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having not made a valid will died intestate
2 : not disposed of by a valid will intestate property an intestate estate specifically : transmitted according to statutory rules governing intestate succession
3 : of or relating to intestate succession intestate laws



Legal Definition of intestate (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who dies intestate

History and Etymology for intestate


Latin intestatus, from in- not + testatus testate

More from Merriam-Webster on intestate

Nglish: Translation of intestate for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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