Definitions

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

  • n. 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).
  • n. Mortmain.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. a hand that can not alienate, as of a person civilly dead.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Same as mortmain.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. real property held inalienably (as by an ecclesiastical corporation)
  • n. the oppressive influence of past events or decisions

Etymologies

Middle English dede hond, translation of Old French mortemain or Medieval Latin manus mortua, mortmain.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

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  • "The ever-present, oppressive influence of past events"

    July 7, 2011