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n. Law
A legal arrangement in which a property owner such as an ecclesiastical institution is barred from transferring or selling its property.

[Middle English mortemayne, from Old French mortemain : morte, feminine of mort, dead; see mortgage + main, hand (from Latin manus; see man- in Indo-European roots).]


(Law) law the state or condition of lands, buildings, etc, held inalienably, as by an ecclesiastical or other corporation
[C15: from Old French mortemain, from Medieval Latin mortua manus dead hand, inalienable ownership]



1. the condition of lands or tenements held without right of alienation, as by an ecclesiastical corporation.
2. the perpetual holding of land, esp. by a corporation or charitable trust.
[1250–1300; Middle English < Anglo-French, translation of Medieval Latin mortua manus dead hand]


transfer or ownership of real property in perpetuity, as transfer to or ownership by a corporate body like a school, college, or church.
See also: Property and Ownership
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.mortmain - real property held inalienably (as by an ecclesiastical corporation)
corp, corporation - a business firm whose articles of incorporation have been approved in some state
immovable, real estate, real property, realty - property consisting of houses and land
2.mortmain - the oppressive influence of past events or decisions
influence - a power to affect persons or events especially power based on prestige etc; "used her parents' influence to get the job"