mort·​main | \ ˈmȯrt-ˌmān How to pronounce mortmain (audio) \

Definition of mortmain

1a : an inalienable possession of lands or buildings by an ecclesiastical or other corporation
b : the condition of property or other gifts left to a corporation in perpetuity especially for religious, charitable, or public purposes
2 : the influence of the past regarded as controlling the present

First Known Use of mortmain

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for mortmain

Middle English morte-mayne, from Anglo-French mortmain, from morte (feminine of mort dead) + main hand, from Latin manus — more at manual

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The first known use of mortmain was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Mortmain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2020.

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mort·​main | \ ˈmȯrt-ˌmān How to pronounce mortmain (audio) \

Legal Definition of mortmain

1 : the possession of real property in perpetuity by a corporate body (as a church) also : the condition of property in such possession
2 : the controlling influence of the past not used technically

History and Etymology for mortmain

Anglo-French, from Old French mortemain, from morte (feminine of mort dead, from Latin mortuus) + main hand, from Latin manus

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