From Middle English chatel, from Old French chatel, from Medieval Latin capitāle (English capital), from Latin capitālis (“of the head”), from caput (“head”) + -alis (“-al”). Compare cattle (“cows”), which is from an Anglo-Norman variant. Compare also capital and kith and kine (“all one’s possessions”), which also use “cow” to mean “property”.
chattel (plural chattels)
- Tangible, movable property.
- A slave.
- 1955: Not all his servants and chattels are wraiths! — JRR Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring [Book 2, Chapter 1 - Many Meetings]