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EtymologyEdit

From Anglo-Norman mortmayn, morte meyn, from Old French mortes meins, after Late Latin phrase mortua manus. See Latin mors (dead) + manus (hand).

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NounEdit

mortmain (usually uncountable, plural mortmains)

  1. (law) The perpetual, inalienable possession of lands by a corporation or non-personal entity such as a church.
  2. (literary) A strong and inalienable possession.
    • 1770, Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Present Discontents, and Speeches,
      [] ; and some part of that influence [of the government], which would otherwise have been possessed as in a sort of mortmain and unalienable domain, returned again to the great ocean from whence it arose, []

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