dead hand


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dead hand

n.
1. The ever-present, oppressive influence of past events: "Psychotherapy explores the ways in which the past has shaped people, and how its dead hand continues to deform their lives" (James S. Gordon).
2. Mortmain.

[Middle English dede hond, translation of Old French mortemain or Medieval Latin manus mortua, mortmain.]

dead hand

n
1. an oppressive or discouraging influence or factor: the dead hand of centralized control.
2. (Law) law a less common word for mortmain

mort•main

(ˈmɔrtˌmeɪn)

n.
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]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.dead hand - 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.dead hand - 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"
References in classic literature ?
Then he clove the water with a rush, his dead hand waved, the last of him to disappear; and I had a new horror to think over for my sins.
She came, O King, because the dead hand of Baleka summoned her, as thou sawest.
The bottle fell from his dead hand upon the yams without breaking, although the remnant of its contents gurgled gently out upon the deck.
In chuckling over the vexations he could inflict by the rigid clutch of his dead hand, he inevitably mingled his consciousness with that livid stagnant presence, and so far as he was preoccupied with a future life, it was with one of gratification inside his coffin.
Already, however, the legal tongues are wagging, and one young law student is loudly asserting that the rights of the owner are already completely sacrificed, his property being held in contravention of the statues of mortmain, since the tiller, as emblemship, if not proof, of delegated possession, is held in a dead hand.
As the dead hand relaxed its grasp upon Tara's wrist the girl leaped forward, without a backward glance, to Gahan's side.
Down in the yard lies Austin with sprawling limbs, his face glimmering white in the dawn, and the hose nozzle still projecting from his dead hand.
Slowly and feebly he raised it high above the back of the man on top of him; with a last supreme effort he drove the point downward, but ere it reached its goal there was a sharp snapping sound as of a broken bone, the dagger fell harmlessly from his dead hand, and his head rolled backward upon his broken neck.
It was removed from her dead hand, in my presence, with such distracted grief as I hope it may never be my lot to contemplate again.
Like the jed who had brought me, he was frightfully scarred, and also decorated with the breastplate of human skulls and dried dead hands which seemed to mark all the greater warriors among the Warhoons, as well as to indicate their awful ferocity, which greatly transcends even that of the Tharks.
You are withering away like the dead hands that wove you.
And then he told how a friend--his good taste did not suffer him more than to hint subtly who the friend was with such gracious fancies--had laid a laurel wreath on the dead poet's heart; and the beautiful dead hands had seemed to rest with a voluptuous passion upon Apollo's leaves, fragrant with the fragrance of art, and more green than jade brought by swart mariners from the manifold, inexplicable China.