Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The legal doctrine that allows a court freedom in interpreting the terms of a will or gift if carrying out the terms literally would be impracticable or illegal. At the same time, the general intent of the testator or donor is supposed to be observed as closely as possible.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. In the law governing charitable trusts, the doctrine that a court may direct the funds of the trust to a best alternative, to be chosen when the original beneficiary is no longer a choice.

Etymologies

Middle English, from Anglo-Norman : cy, so, as (from Latin sīc, so; see sic1) + pres, near (from Late Latin pressē, close to, from Latin pressus, past participle of premere, to press closely; see press1).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Anglo-Norman cy pres, see French ci-près. (Wiktionary)

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